I have very strong opinions on the importance of play, if you haven't figured that out already. This article was found by a fellow blogger and friend, and it is just a gem.
It discusses how children today are "game players" rather than "game designers." They can play with what is given to them, but struggle with creating something novel, thinking "outside the box" and making something out of nothing. You can't blame this struggle on them. After all, you have to search high and low to find toys that don't move on their own or have buttons that make them have sounds. My favorite example of this is the dinosaur that walks and roars on his own. What fun is playing with a dinosaur when you can't crash it into things and invent the cacophonous sounds yourself?? I think back to when my son wanted the Little Einsteins rocket for his figures. I even had it in the cart when I thought, "If he wants a rocket, he should make one. I made quite a few tissue box vehicles in my day. He can do it, too." But, it's so hard, as parents, to not give into the call of consumerism and bright, blinking, loud manufactured toys that tell us how smart they will make our children.
The article also touches on the importance of child-led unstructured play which is the cornerstone of the therapy I practice called DIR/Floortime. Children need to lead the play and structure it for themselves to truly explore and learn from their environment. They need play partners that say, "Yes!" not "Let's try it this way" or "Rabbits can't fly."
Perhaps my favorite section of the article is when the author discusses the heavy focus in schools on behavior and classroom management. She says,
"...I fully appreciate the fine balance between learning and discipline that is required in any classroom. Yet I grow concerned when the daily folder my child brings home focuses on rewarding the following behaviors: walk quietly, keep hands to self, raise hand before speaking, and sit still in chair. Instead, I’d like to see a second folder promoting things like: had an original idea, created a new game on the playground, made up a story, solved a problem for a friend, or invented something uncommon from a common object."
Alas, more reasons why I have chosen to work privately instead of in a classroom.
So, please take the time to read this article and pass it along to your friends, family and your child's teachers and therapists. It's a good one. (Warning though... she does knock moon sand which I totally love. It's okay, though. Moon sand is great for indoor play in the winter or on rainy days. You and I know that the sand box is always best when weather permits. ;) )
Here's the link: