Monday, November 23, 2015

Let 'em play

Play is the joyful focus of childhood - and the kind of imaginative play children do is something that fades as they move into adulthood. Can you picture a cocktail gathering of grown-ups who begin spontaneously racing all over the place chasing each other, clambering up a play structure and down the slide (over and over), and then deciding to take on roles of say, doctors with sticks as medical tools, while digging a hole in the dirt for their dead bug patients?  I love this image!

The natural developmental impulse of children to play is something that we tamper with at our own risk.  Taking it away is like taking away their tools for genius.  This recent article in the Straits Times, Let Kids Play to Help Them Succeed in Life, tells about five distinct types of play, (some of which adults still like to do): physical play, play with objects, symbolic play, pretense play, and games with rules.

The author tells about the creativity researcher George Lands who called children "genius-level divergent thinkers" who are naturals at coming up with multiple responses to problems, solutions that are highly imaginative and unrestrained.

Cultivating this natural genius seems like a good idea for educators to embrace.  For sure, giving children time for exploratory play is key.  At Parker, with a mission of inspiring curiosity and nurturing confidence, giving time and importance to play is one of the most important parts of our curriculum.

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