Here is an interesting article about playing and how it is an essential way for children to learn about the world, themselves and others: The Play Deficit by evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray. Through play kids learn negotiation, empathy, inginuity and other skills that have been identified as markers for success in life.
Having grown up in a time in the 50's and 60's that the author talks about as being the golden years for children's play - when childhood was completely filled with unstructured time for wandering, getting into and out of trouble, and running with a gang of mixed age neighborhood kids, maybe it is just my nostalgia that makes Gray's ideas ring true. But watching children at Parker every day and seeing their real need - and joy - to run, tumble, tussle, build, dig and interact with imagination, I think he and other educators and psycholigsts are on the right track.
Maybe that's why I love Planet Parker summer camp and Muddy Boots Club and why I feel so strongly that we need to carve out a place for play at school.
What are your thoughts? What challenges do we face?