We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw
It’s 11:41 p.m. on a Thursday as I lie in my bed listening to the murmur of my kids from the next room. They are very involved in their play — something that often occurs in the late hours of the night when one might typically expect children to be sleeping. But they play so well together in these late-night moments, creating elaborate stories, developing characters (tonight it’s a city of talking Matchbox cars), working through conflict, working on their communication skills, developing dialogue, and more. Who am I to interrupt them just because the clock says it’s nearly midnight?
Play is the work of the child. – Maria Montessori
According to Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College and acclaimed author:
Human children, who have the most to learn, play far more than any other primates when they are allowed to do so. Play is the natural means by which children and other young mammals educate themselves. The most important skills that children everywhere must learn in order to live happy, productive, moral lives are skills that cannot be taught in school. Such skills cannot be taught at all. They are learned and practiced by children in play. These include the abilities to think creatively, to get along with other people and cooperate effectively, and to control their own impulses and emotions.
Additionally, counseling psychologist Gayatri Ayyer says,
Research shows that playing is paramount to our physical, intellectual and socio-emotional development. The play I’m talking about here is the unstructured, spontaneous and imaginative escapades that we had in our childhoods; not the structured and organized sports of today. The benefits of playing are immense. They learn different academic concepts, the rules of behaviour with peers, manners, friendship, decision-making, conflict resolution, cooperation and competition.
Eventually I may ask them to wrap up their game for the night, but for now I am grateful that tomorrow (like most days) we have nowhere we must be in the morning. For now I will enjoy the sweet sound of my children getting along, the sound of imagination, the sound of play.
- From Sara at Nesting Gypsy — Lipstick and Learning
- From The Creativity Post — Unschooling and the Benefits of Unstructured Time
- From The Health Site — It’s playtime: The importance of play for your child’s development
- From The Independent — Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less
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