Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Lost Art of Free Play

Often I've questioned the academic overload that seems to be present in some early childhood classrooms. In no way am I implying that math and reading aren't salient, but when these academic areas get in the way of play, this concerns me. Especially when many children aren't given the opportunity for "play" in their own homes. My definition of play consists of time for exploring, free-thinking, problem solving and imaginative thinking.

Recently, I've been revisiting two different books that stress the importance of play- Awakening your Child's Natural Genius by Thomas Armstrong Ph.D. and Raising Curious Kids by Nancy Sokol Green. Armstrong discusses the lost art of free play. He states that "unstructured imaginative play may have a greater value to a child's overall development than these more formal types of recreation."

Formal types of recreation would include things as athletic-directed play, television or computer based games. When this is the primary type of home play, children are missing out on the nurturing of free play.

A similar philosophy is shared by Green. Based on her experiences with children, she is convinced that "all children have incredibly creative minds. Yet if these remarkable minds are not stimulated, we may never discover the wealth of creative thoughts and innovative ideas waiting to surface."

Our children are stuck in a generation of electronic toy overload, when all that they really need is simplicity. I am guilty of electronic toys, dozens and dozens of dolls and toys strewn about the house. But I inspire to do better and have always valued the opportunity for my children to explore and discover.

If you are interested in learning more about the importance of play, stay tuned for Part Two of The Lost Art of Play . I will share some creative suggestions on what we can do to encourage play in our own homes!

Take Care,



Haasiegirl said...

i actually very much agree w/ you. We are pushing other things aside that are just as important to be well rounded.


lovinglife said...

Raising Curious Kids is a great book. I bought it last night and have so far skimmed through it but I love the simplicity of the ideas. My kids are both still in diapers but my husband and I do everything we can to encourage them to be artistic and creative. It is common for my two year old to dress her little brother in her tutu and spin him all around the house. We do daily craft activities and the majority of their toys are musical instruments. I love your blog, can't wait until I have more time to read back through some of you entries.

Preschool Playbook said...

Thank you for this great post. So many parents want to know why we play so long. Play is SO important.

Jenni said...

Playing is VERY important! Even in elementary school, having recess is a very important part of the school day for children!

Jen said...

Thank you so much for all of your valuable feedback!

The Blonde Duck said...

I did an article on this for work awhile ago. I agree with you completely. When we have kids, I'm going to focus a lot on free play and using their imaginations over gadgets!

Preschool Playbook said...

Hi Jen, I wanted to make sure that you got my message so I posted it here. You don't have to put this on your comment page.
Please feel free to use any of the photos or information you would like and need. I actually am honored when someone finds useful information.
Also, I did get that squirrel. The post is right before my Valentine Bag post. You just have to scroll down a bit. Thanks for asking.

Jen said...

Oops! I already posted it. Oh well, maybe others will be curious to see that squirrel. Ha, Ha!!


ParentingPink said...

AGREED! I am BIG on my daughters using their imagination. I try to avoid toys with "batteries" if possible :-) We have a puppet theatre that the girls got from their grandma last year and I love watching their shows. Imaginary play really is the best!

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