Monday, March 1, 2010

The Importance Of Play

We do a lot of playing at our house! In fact we are all about playing...all of us! Me with my sewing, cooking and crafting. Ole with all his computer gadgets and gizmos and the kids with just about anything they can get their hands on. Oliver and Elliott are huge into Lego and now that they are getting a bit older they are really excited about gaming. Abby with her stuffed animals, especially "Diddlina" and anything dealing with arts and crafts! Henry with anything that is 'Not" officially a "toy" ie. a piece of string, an empty box etc. etc. Now that we are a home schooling family I have made a ton of observations. All things which I knew before but the real impact of it is really amazing. We really do learn so much more when left with ourselves and our imaginations. So, I did a little research and the gazillions of articles about it on the web was astounding, I couldn't even begin to read them all.

But here is a quote that I loved.

"Real learning tends to take place when people are brave enough to experiment, relax, and try something new. A new article from the Scientific American shows that unstructured play time is vital to help kids develop and grow intellectually. We’re not talking about ballet lessons and educational games…this is about free time to let kids do whatever they choose.

Consider this research from psychiatrist Stuart Brown:

“In 42 years…he has interviewed some 6,000 people about their childhoods, and his data suggest that a lack of opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play can keep children from growing into happy, well-adjusted adults. “Free play,” as scientists call it, is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving. Research into animal behavior confirms play’s benefits and establishes its evolutionary importance: ultimately, play may provide animals (including humans) with skills that will help them survive and reproduce…."

We couldn't agree more. The things that Oliver and Elliott have done on their own with their own imaginations is just amazing. Ole and I are constantly blown away. Our homeschooling approach is that of a combo of philosophies. We are not traditional homeschoolers with a prepared curriculum nor are we pure unschoolers but more of a happy medium between the two. I do believe that it is important to have some structure however giving the kids a lot of time to explore and investigate on their own is also key! We give them the tools they need to explore and we leave them to do so on their own without interfering but we are always their if they have questions or need help and the results are amazing. They have taught themselves how to play Chess...completely on their own and with the help of "you tube" they even built their own chess board with Lego which btw was really stinkin' cool, Elliott loves music and is teaching himself how to play the guitar and their most recent passion is making stop motion movies with their Legos. Of course the list goes on and on but these are so of the things that come to mind first.

Then I got to thinking about myself and how I learned to sew. Yes, I did learn a lot from my mom and grandma. However, I am mainly self-taught. I have never taken a class or read any instructional books. It's all about playing!!! I have messed around with all kinds of ideas and perfected my own tricks of the trade, come up with shortcuts and invented all sorts of things just because I wasn't afraid to play with it. My kids see me playing in my sewing room all the time and I think it's me being a good role model by showing them "how to play" that really sets the tone. Just as if you yourself are an avid reader and your kids see you reading all the time...chances are they will be book lovers too! All 4 of our kiddos are really good at entertaining themselves, not that we don't want to play with them but I don't necessarily want to inject my "grown-up" ideas into their imaginations and change the course of what they might have discovered on their own. So, here I go being a doting mom! I love that my kids are independent thinkers and unafraid to explore, they are all content have a fabulous self-esteem and most importantly they are "Happy"!!! I know this sounds strange and I thought it was at first too, but I cannot tell you how many people comment on how genuinely happy my kids are. What an odd thing to say to someone "I cannot believe how happy your kids are!" Then I thought about it and they are right. They really are blissfully happy with no stress, no need to compete and everything they need for a happy childhood.

btw...I went digging through my archive of photos which there are thousands of and I found this photo of Oliver when he was a little guy and thought it was perfect for this post.


1 comment:

Christine said...

This is wonderful. I also think that because there are many more children being raised by daycares, the time for free play is decreased. I also get frustrated with my kids long hours at school with 1 recess.


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