right to play

May the 4th Be With You – Play is the Force of Childhood

May the 4th be with you. This is such a fun play on words, and play is the force of childhood.

dress-up play

Play is more than a force, it’s a right of childhood. That’s another play on words too. Play is so important that the United Nations has incorporated it in The Convention on the Rights of the Child. Right also has the sense of being correct, and childhood is the right time for play. Play is how kids learn.

“Children are wired for hands-on, full-contact, self-selected interaction with the world—we call this PLAY!” (author unknown)

Childhood is a magical time, full of play and wonder. In the spirit of May 4th, here is a recipe I’ve shared before. May the 4th of play be with you and the magic of childhood live in your heart.

recipe for magical childhood

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.

playing with balls for early learning and developmentThere will be some exciting soccer matches as these teams from around the world compete. The journey to being a soccer PLAYer at this level has undoubtedly been long and hard, but it began with a child playing and kicking a ball. Perhaps, parents would kick the ball with the child or maybe brothers or sisters or friends. Likely, a child with such deep motivation probably spent hours kicking the ball against walls and fences. But for that future soccer star, the start was play and fun.

Play is so essential to children’s early learning and development that the United Nations High Commission has enshrined the right to play as one of the Universal Rights of the Child. Play is how children figure out and explore the world. In countries where kids do not have soccer balls, they play with rocks, cans, old shoes, plastic bottles, and bags stuffed with garbage. Noticing a group of children playing with one of these bags inspired Tim Jahnigen. He saw the need for kids to have access to balls and for these balls to be good and sturdy. Specially designed, these One World Futbols are nearly indestructible and since 2010, more than 1.5 million of these balls have impacted the lives of children around the world. In the words of Lisa Tarver, cofounder of One World Futbol, “We really can’t underestimate the power of play.”

In the spirit of World Cup Soccer, for a play-of-the-day, find a ball that your child can play with. Sponge balls or beach balls are often easier for little hands and feet. Kids can hit, kick, throw, and catch and balls can be any size. Who knows what such play might kickstart?

Universal Children’s Day: For Learning, Play, & Connecting

Universal Children's DayEach year, November 20th, is Universal Children’s Day as established by the United Nations. Started in 1954, Universal Children’s Day promotes the welfare of children and children’s connection to each other all over the world. One of the rights of children, is the right to play. Since the purpose of this website is to support children’s early learning and play, that seems especially relevant.

Why is play so significant? Quite simply, because play is how a child learns. The activity does not matter; it could be building with blocks, cuddling a stuffie, putting together a puzzle or throwing stones in a puddle. It could even be washing the dishes or putting away the groceries or playing I Spy while sitting and waiting.

importance of playIf a child is eager and having fun, creating, discovering and manipulating, this is play.  Through play, children connect their inner and outer worlds, increasing their knowledge and understanding and gaining confidence in themselves.

AND YES, children do indeed learn thru play. All kinds of brain connections are created and thinking skills developed in play. These are not just ‘academic’ or school-work skills, but social, emotional, and physical ones too. For the most part what children are learning is invisible, we don’t see those pathways and networks growing in children’s minds.

block playKids do not just play with toys. They play with rocks, sticks, sandwich containers, pots and pans, the garden hose, mud, sand, water, bugs, kitchen chairs, blankets, keys, and parents’ electronic devices. While playing with cell phones, kids have called strangers in other countries. They have reprogrammed computers and unprogrammed TVs. To a child practically anything can be a toy.

Children play by themselves independently and with others. Play can be loud and active, or calm and quiet, although when it’s too quiet parents and caregivers get worried and run to check what a child is doing.

Some communities might have special events for Universal Children’s Day. Just having some time to play is another way to honor the day. How will your child–and you–play?