A comedian once said that a little boy’s Prime Directive was TO PLAY. And that if you wanted to understand boys you had to keep that in mind, because it will explain their choices and behavior. Bravo! But I would add that play is equally important for boys and girls. In fact, children learn most of what they learn through play. We even see this in the animal kingdom so it shouldn’t surprise us.
But our modern notions of education are really at odds with this reality. After 1st or 2nd grade, classrooms increasingly emphasize textbooks and, well, stuff that sure doesn’t seem like play to me. I remember hearing that children learn something through play 8 times faster than any other method. Wow!
Dr. Karyn Purvis (author of The Connected Child) encourages parents to “Give your child the gift of play.” She goes on to emphasize the extremely important role play and playful interaction have in neurological development of every child starting from day one. She also speaks of how play actually changes the brain’s chemistry, helping children who are “fear based” become more relaxed and trusting. Play can free them from the chains of trauma and fear. Wow!
So, encourage creative and active play! Play with your children as much as you can. Enter into their world of play and try to make most of your interactions with them playful in tone. There are lots of things parents feel they need to teach and train their children to understand. If we go about it in a more playful manner, research seems to tell us they will learn it MUCH better and faster. Hey, I’m all for that!