I've been so inspired about the benefits of PLAY thanks to my 18 month old daughter and visiting Nueva School to hear Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D. speak. What is play? It's a mental and physical activity not related to survival. Thompson says it's "the spontaneous activity of children", a "signature mammalian behavior". David Elkind says it's "the inborn disposition for learning, curiosity, imagination and fantasy". Is our society losing unscheduled and creative play? Screen time, soccer practice, parents worried about children's safety...all threaten "free, undirected play". What does this mean? Could it be a link to higher rates of obesity, stress and increased ADHD? Felix Adler says "we need to give children lots of sunshine when they are young. They are going to need it later." Thompson sums his ideas up by saying "play is the sunshine of childhood".
What can I do? In a few years, trust (gulp) my daughter to play on her own without constant supervision. Obviously some safety nets have to be established. Right now, I'd like to infuse some play into my K-5 school through our weekly advisory program. I don't just want to provide more recess but opportunities for kids to explore, be dramatic, role play, build, and create. I'm going to let the students drive. Will they want to work with legos, make handmade paper, build a ship to play in? Older kids will eventually pair up with younger kids so we can have a little mentoring going on. Finally, I must not forget empathy. Employing "design thinking" strategies...the older kids will need to find the need of the younger kids. What does our school lack? What do they want more of? I just need to remember from Thompson that adults don't need to improve on play. I just need to facilitate.
Proud of my displays for the WAC company holiday party (good job Sanford & team). Helped Laura run the craft station...shrinky dinks were a hit as always (loved the Justin Bieber ornaments) and the sparkly peppermint playdoh dazzled all. Not to mention holiday cards, snowflakes and more. On an epicurean note, I especially enjoyed the corndogs & rootbeer float at the carnival themed party.