"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning."
There is so much to write about concerning this topic. And yet, in it's simplest explanation, no more needs to be said. Children need to play.
I have read so many books on the topic and personally observed so much on the topic. There is, without a doubt, a correlation between the free child and their confidence, inner peace with themself and the world, being content and calm, and amazingly, having the resilience and skills to handle conflict and solve problems.
And there is just as strong of a correlation between the child that rarely has a moment of their own that is not controlled or governed by an adult. Have you witnessed this: a child may act out regularly, throw tantrums well beyond the age of tantrums, struggle to focus, struggle handling their emotions, require intervention, be diagnosed with a learning disability, struggle to sleep, be medicated to assist their over-activity or lack of activity, be stressed and worried regularly, and ultimately, never feel that they, themselves, can make, do, or be the right thing that the world expects of them?
I know the above observation is extreme and may definitely not be yours or my child but that scenario is becoming commonplace in our society. Statistics prove it. Books on our children's mental/emotional health prove it. Homes prove it. Schools prove it.
It is the devastating tale of tearing out the pages of what childhood has always resembled in the volumes of history (play, imitation, learning, and developing at a natural pace) and replacing those pages with restrictive play, thinking, creating, and autonomy and worst of all, trusting our children to find their own path.
But we can change this.
We can help change this dilemma that is affecting all children now and will, in the end, affect the future of our society as a whole.
What can you and I do--whether our children are school or homeschooled?
Let them play.
Let them play.
Let them play.
I have been inspired by so many public schooling moms that listen to their motherly intuition with this concept. One mom that will pull her child out of school for a day if there is something more important or exciting for her child going on in the city where they live. I'm sure they will create memories, experience something new and remarkable together, and instill that idea of freedom to learn and be autonomous in their child.
Another public school mom I know of doesn't worry to have her children signed up with any extracurricular activities so her kids can come home from school and build with legos all evening or play with friends, relax, create, and feel in control of their own world.
And I know of yet another mom who pulled her children out of school recently so that the individual needs and desires of her children could be met in a more flexible environment. So play could be a larger part of their lives.
"Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold."
Joseph Chilton Pearce
"A child loves his play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard."
Here are simple steps we can take right now to ensure our children can think, create, and thrive freely through regular play:
- Remove a "cool" but unnecessary after-school program/activity off of your child's plate and turn that time into their free "play time"
- Pull them out of school for a day when you think they are getting overwhelmed and need a break-- make them a special breakfast, let them stay in their PJs all day and "play" to unwind, focus, problem solve, and build up their strength again
- Use the money you could have spent on lessons/adult-run activities for the child on tools, supplies, or materials they would love to have for their "play": woodworking bench, sewing machine, legos, real art supplies, clay for ceramics, telescope, microscope, etc.
- Reserve Saturdays as free days--no extracurricular activities for anyone, just "play and be kids" day
- Stop judging their play. Let them create and play based on what drives them. You may not understand what they are learning or resolving or problem solving through their play. And that is perfectly fine. The most important thing is it is their own
I can promise you one thing if you take a simple step towards reinstating your child's right to play: you will see miracles happen. This is a fact. With a little time, there will be less stressed/emotional kids that talk back, more peace in your home, less arguing, move decisiveness in how your child learns how to use their new free time, you will see a new child unfold that has talents you never knew existed, and your child's allowance to think and act more for themself will be made manifest through new found confidence and contentment. Real peace will develop more deeply within your child.
I promise. Try something new for your child and step back and watch. It is the biggest sign to me that children. must. play.
the sleepy time gal