The Value of Play
Isn't it ironic that a country whose constitution allows for the pursuit of happiness now feels a collective guilt about the very idea of anything fun? How did this happen? When did we begin placing so much priority on productivity and so little on leisure or on having a good time? Even given the Puritan work ethic, life in America has become so unbalanced that one side of the seesaw is pretty much grounded.
But why must we insist that our children, who by their very nature are playful, share these particular values? Why are we so anxious for our children to "act like adults?"
But wait, you may be thinking, kids play plenty these days. They play T-ball, soccer, even tennis?
Yes, these are forms of play. But the true definition of the word, as it applies to children, is that it be child-directed, open-ended, and intrinsically motivated. It also focuses more on the process than the product, which cannot technically be said about T-ball, soccer, or tennis, where homeruns, goals, and points are typically the focus.
However, if we really must have "product" - that is, results - from our children's activities, play has plenty of that to offer, too. For one thing, many experts believe the adult personality is built upon the child's play. According to Playing for Keeps, all of the skills children need to develop into functioning, productive adults originate from play. These skills include literacy, mathematical reasoning, creativity, and social skills. Among the social skills learned, the experts tell us, are the ability to share, cooperate, negotiate, compromise, make and revise rules, and take the perspective of others.
Surely we can see the value in such benefits - that these abilities will serve our children better than the ability to name the states' capitals! But, if that's not enough benefit derived, Joan Isenberg and Mary Renck Jalongo, authors of Creative Expression and Play in the Early Childhood Curriculum, argue that play
* enables children to explore their world;
* develop cultural understandings;
* helps children express their thoughts and feelings; and
* provides opportunities to meet and solve problems.
Additionally, play enables children to deal with stress and to cope with fears they can't yet understand or express. Today's young children are exposed to so much so early and must cope with much more stress than their predecessors ever did. Pay gives them a necessary emotional release and helps them make sense of everything they're experiencing. And as Playing for Keeps points out, when young children act out emotion-laden scenes in their play, such as reassuring a doll that mommy will return, they learn to cope with fears and gain the self-control that will bring them to the next state of development.
Writing in Education Week, master teacher Sheila Flaxman states that today's young children are controlled by the "expectations, whims, and rules of adults. Play is the only time they can take control of their world." She goes on to state: "The almost daily media reports of out-of-control young people should be our warning that something is amiss in early childhood." Indeed, retired psychiatrist Stuart Brown, founder of the Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, California, was quoted in Time Magazine as saying that "play deprivation" can lead to "depression, hostility, and the loss of the things that make us human beings."
For a great many contemporary adult human beings, balance is a word that has come to symbolize something out of reach. Something desired but elusive, as we work long hours, tend to families, and spend what little free time we have as productively as possible. What used to be considered leisure time (remember lazy Sunday afternoons?) must now be filled. It doesn't matter whether it's with "recreation," chores of one kind or another, or shuttling the children here and there, just so long as we can say we didn't waste it. "What did you do this weekend?" has become a question to be reckoned with on Monday mornings. It demands a smart answer, just as surely as did our eight-grade algebra teacher.
If you're an adult who's been giving balance some consideration - who's tired of the treadmill - perhaps you find yourself looking back fondly on what now seems to be an idyllic childhood. Back to the days when time stretched endlessly before you. Back when there were few demands on that time. And, except for summers, weekends, and days when the darkness fell too early, there always seemed to be plenty of it.
Shouldn't today's children have similar memories to cling to when they become busy adults? Let's make sure they have quiet moments of solitude. Child-initiated and -directed activity. A break from the relentless competition so prevalent in society. Let's make sure they have a chance to play!
Rae Pica is a children's physical activity specialist and the author of Your Active Child: How to Boost Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Development through Age-Appropriate Activity (McGraw-Hill, 2003). Rae speaks to parent and education groups throughout North America. Visit her and read more articles at http://www.movingandlearning.com.
Positive Parenting of Teenagers: Helping Your Teen Understand What I Cant Afford It Means
Because most teens have not had the experience of getting to the end of the money before the end of the month, the words, ``I can't afford it,'' have little or no meaning.Here's what can happen in lots of homes:``Mom, can I get a new (fill in the blank)?''``No, honey, I'm sorry, but we can't afford it.
Is Your Child Becoming A Praise Junkie?
Do you praise your child when he fulfils a basic bodily function? Do you praise your child for obeying the laws of gravity? Do you give praise for simple socialisation procedures that your child practises every day?No, you say. Have you ever praised your child for finishing all his meal? Ever praised a child for staying on his bike or perhaps staying vertical on roller-blades? Ever praised a toddler for their terrific smile and fantastic manners?In the last few decades parents in many parts of the world including the US.
Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Blackmail
Family decision-making is an intriguing phenomenon. Many factors become part of the decision-making process.
Clean Your House Green for your Children's Sake
My thirteen-year-old daughter recently called me up to say she had cleaned the whole kitchen and bathroom herself. So many emotions ran through me at that moment.
Predicament:My son is 4 1/2 years old. His younger brother is 2 1/2.
Best Tips for Stress Free Child Party Games
When planning a child birthday party, just a little bit of organisation will go a long way. A good selection of child party games will keep the group interested and the party running smoothly.
Life is funny.My twenty-year-old daughter, Melanie, has a her new summer job as a nanny for three small children.
How to Assist Troubled Teens
What parents of a teen haven't wondered where their sweet child went and who the angry and rebellious child is that took his or her place. After all, adolescence is a time of change.
Advantages of Using a Board Certified Pediatrician
When a child is born, a new number is added to the parental speed dial. When a child wakes his parents up in the middle of the night, there is one person that they know they can turn to for the answers.
A Minute Can Turn into Hours for the Child of a Work-at-Home Mom
In theory, working at home is an ideal situation. But in reality, it's difficult to balance the needs of your family with the needs of your clients.
Preparing Your Child for the Three Rs
There is little doubt that reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic are crucial elements in the education of any child. A child's ability to later cope in the adult world, to have a career, to take charge of his financial affairs and to live independently depends to a large extent on his mastery of these skills.
Examining Drugs for ADHD, Particularly Strattera
In memory of 14 year old Matthew Smith; 11 year old Stephanie Hall; and 10 year old Shaina Dunkle and other children who have died from the use of psychotropic drugs for "ADHD".The Eli Lilly company has been marketing a new drug for those who are labeled as ADHD known as Strattera.
What To Do With A 6 Year Old Smart Mouth Know It All
Just the other day, I was talking to some other stay at home moms and asked if they were struggling with any difficulties. "Yes," one piped up almost immediately, "discipline problems with my 6 year old smart mouth know-it-all! I don't want to spank, and don't, but he seems to laugh at time out, privilage loss, etc.
The Mystery of Child Beliefs, Spirit in Children, Understanding Spirtuality in Children
In the wonderment of childhood, it is easier for a child to find Spirit and belief than it is for adults! Tainted with the experiences of the mundane world, sadly a downhill experience of late, adults can become jaded, defensive, argumentative and nonbelievers. Not so with the purity and innocence of childhood.
Teaching Your Children with Coupons
Coupons can be a great tool in educating your child about saving money, being frugal, and shopping smart. Who doesn't want their children to grow up knowing how to save easily on every purchase? With coupon clipping you'll show them money saving skills they can use throughout their life!Teaching your child with coupons can start at an early age.
Did You Get the Hidden Parenting Message in Finding Nemo?
In the movie, Finding Nemo, Nemo's father, Marlyn asks the sea turtle, "Dude, how do you know when they are ready?"This is an interesting question that many parents would like to know. How DO you know when your children are ready to take on tasks for themselves? The only way to know if your children are ready for something is to test them.
Parents of Teens: Do You Ever Ask WHY is she so MEAN to me?
Do you ever wonder what is behind the occasional nasty attitudes expressed by your teenager? Teenagers can make their parents feel pretty badly at times; if they only knew how much their words and actions sometimes hurt us they'd probably stop. Perhaps.
In Defense of the Jelly Bean
Should a parent give a child a tangible reward when he or she has behaved properly or performed some important task such as doing homework, or helping around the house? Understandably, many parents are hesitant to use incentives, such as prizes, or food treats, to influence their children, especially considering the negative comments by some, but not all, contemporary parenting experts. For many parents, giving their children rewards feels like bribery and to them, should be thus avoided.
Diapers: Do You Choose Disposable Or Reusable?
Hearing Our Seriously Distressed Children
How do we deal with our seriously distressed children and adolescents?Adolescents are in a period of seeking autonomy and self-determination. These qualities can aid them in becoming agents of active transformation in their own lives.
|home | site map|