Play was pretty simple as a kid. Nobody had to tell you what to do or show you how; you just did it.
Whether it was Cowboys and Indians, fighting dragons, Barbie & Ken, or creating whole new worlds with a cardboard box, play was fun and play was easy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
As adults, play tends to be frowned upon and dismissed as juvenile and unproductive (except in the case of competitive sports). We play less and less as we get older and instead of playing, we work… hard. We even have a tendency to stifle or stymie children’s natural desire for play (Ever heard someone say “stop playing with that; it’s not a toy”?).
The less we play, the harder life seems. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if, rather than working hard, we could play? What if your whole day was playful? What if cleaning the house was fun? Wouldn’t that make life easier?
Sit still and stop fidgeting.
Play isn’t inane and it isn’t pointless. Play is purposeful and important. If you watch children at play, it’s a serious business.
The benefits of play in children have been widely documented and include: improved attention, better behaviour, good social skills, fitness, higher academic test scores, greater creativity, better self-esteem, independence and more. Maybe in adults it’s the same? In the video below, Stephen Jepson shows how he brings play to his life through curiosity.
As adults, we still have the opportunity to play but we can play in new ways. It doesn’t have to be limited to games or sports. We can engage in life with the qualities of youth – curiosity, wonder, invention – and enjoy the ease of playing with everyday situations.
As parents and teachers, we also have the opportunity to promote play, take fun seriously, encourage curiosity and let kids be the best they can be.
Tips for How to Play
- Join in
- Accept everything
- Be curious; ask questions
- Encourage curiosity
- Practice seeing the world their way
- Create a challenge
- Try something new
- Try something again
- Try something differently