importance of play

Child’s Play Helps Discover New Planets

Child’s play helps discover new planets? Well, that’s a bit of a stretch but what we do as adults often grows from how we loved to play as kids. Many of the scientists at NASA were fascinated by space as children and on a radio show, one of them was quoted as saying she has been intrigued with searching for new planets since an early age.

planets child art play

February is friends and heart month. Following a passion is following your heart. Did you have an interest or a favorite way to play as a child that gave clues about what you are doing today? Of course, child’s play has been a lifelong interest of mine. Being a kindergarten teacher means being able to play at work. On the blog, I’ve included many posts about careers adults choose and the clues we find when we look at their play. This excerpt is from the post Child’s PlayReaches to Outer Space from a couple of years back:

Astronaut Chris Hadfield adventured far beyond Earth to the International Space Station Endeavour. He played the guitar and sang the first song ever recorded in space. He was inspired at the age of nine as he watched Apollo landing on the Moon, but his interest in flying began much earlier than that. Along with others written about in this series, an artist that drew on the wall about the age of 2, a nurse that played with Dr. Barbie, a mathematician that enjoyed numbers, a designer that always liked to draw, a scientist that took apart her toys and dolls, a crafter who created and sold products to her childhood friends, and a chef who wanted an Easy-Bake oven as a young boy, Chris Hadfield extended his play to a career. How can we so trivialize children’s play when time and time again, we hear stories like these?

Lego space playThe question is even more relevant with the discovery of these seven exoplanets. In a way, the curiosity to explore and the drive to discover are the fuel of play. We see from the time they are wee babies,  the immense hunger young children have to find out all they can about the world. They do this each and every time they play. That’s how we can say child’s play helps discover new planets.star wars science fun for kids

Although we mean well, we cannot fill our children’s days with activities that we plan and organize for them. We must give kids time and space for unstructured play and trust them to direct it. When we do, could we say the results are out of this world?

How to Get in the Zone? Kids Need PLAY!

Kids need play. Each New Year we think of ways to improve health and well-being. Our kids need unstructured play for healthy bodies and bright minds.kids need time to play

With days so busy we have to plan our time, we run the risk of over-scheduling our kids too. While it’s understandable we want to give them as many opportunities as possible, unstructured and imaginative play is one of the best kinds.

To better understand what’s meant by unstructured play, think back to your own experiences and times when you announced to your parents, “I’m bored!” When urged to go play, you may have complained some more but also suddenly discovered something exciting to do or to make. Like a blanket fort, or a space station. Perhaps, you used a toy or ordinary item in a new way you hadn’t thought of before. It was such great play, you may even be able to remember it. From the outside, it may not have looked like play, but there was no doubt it was from the child-expert’s perspective.

imaginative play

Somehow, this sort of play builds better brains. Researcher Serfio Pellis, states, “The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain….without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.” (NPREd, Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain)

Unstructured may not be the best name, because it doesn’t stay that way. As kids play and interact with each other, they negotiate and create their own rules and structure. The play process wires pathways and connections in the brain. Learning to take turns, play fair, and not hurt, “prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.” We all live work and play in a social context.

kids need play

Blog posts and plays-of-the-day this month have all been about resolutions, ways to get in the zone. Absolutely, kids need play. It’s a sort of vitamin to take in a daily dose. By the way, adults need some too. How do you and your child get in the zone and play?

P.S. You can follow the 1 2 3 Kindergarten blog for ways to play and play inspirations. There’s an open invitation to come and play!

P.P.S. Check out Mrs. A’s course on Building Brain Power with Play.

 

Star Ideas for Play

How about some star ideas for play? To start the month, we made star wands and wished upon a star. Very recently, was the release of the new Star Wars movie. Stars can be the inspiration for some plays-of-the-day.children at play sign

When it comes to kids and play, the idea that gets the gold star is just that—PLAY. As parents and caregivers, making sure kids have the time and space to play is one of our most crucial responsibilities. So how do we do this? Here is a condensed version of a recent article giving 3 tips:

“1. Play doesn’t only happen with toys…Kids can get very creative at using real items as toys. This can cause parents and caregivers great problems such as hunting for keys that kids were using to play with. Or discovering the gas tank on the car is full because the kids used the water hose as they played in the yard when a parent was gardening. Sometimes, the problems can be very scary because kids really will play with anything. But most of the time, we can use things we have at home to extend time to play.

2. To a child, work can be play…Kids like to ‘help’ and be part of the action. Doing dishes can be play, and so can making meals and tidying up the yard. Adults need to be inspired by kids to make their work more playful.

3. Play can be counted in minutes. The hours in a day are already full but play fits into minutes. Taking advantage of minutes to add an element of play doesn’t need to tax your brain. Kids will find ways to play on their own. We can watch and listen to them as they play.

Play is so critical, it is enshrined as one of the rights of children by the United Nations High Commission. Kids learn basic life skills as they play. Play can happen anywhere, at any time, with anything, all alone or with others. It doesn’t require expensive toys or special programs because kids will play with sticks and boxes–and things that give our hearts a leap.play ot a luxuryBecause the early years are the most sensitive time for development, one of our responsibilities as parents and caregivers is to ensure kids have time and space to play. Isn’t it amazing that at one of the busiest times in our lives we can provide for children’s most critical needs thru play? 1 2 3 Go PLAY!”

Can you suggest and share some star ideas for play?

10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #6: PLAY

Now this new year’s resolution should be easiest of all to keep because it’s child’s play, that is making sure kids have time each day for play activities. As adults, we sometimes forget how tremendously important it is for children to just play. It’s easy to get busy, but play is so very important the … Continue reading 10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #6: PLAY

Extraordinary Learning Needs Ordinary Play

Series Part #11: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need to PLAY One of the most important ways that we can support children as they get ready to start kindergarten is let them have time and space to PLAY. Did you know that play is so essential to the healthy development of children that the United Nations … Continue reading Extraordinary Learning Needs Ordinary Play

Will Your Child Be A World Cup Soccer PLAYer?

World Cup Soccer has started and some children will dream of one day playing in the championships. Did you notice that key word: PLAY?  Whether it’s FIFA, the Olympics, the Stanley Cup or another great event and competition, the roots of Sport are PLAY. There will be some exciting soccer matches as these teams from … Continue reading Will Your Child Be A World Cup Soccer PLAYer?