Play, it’s not just for fun

Namaste everyone. I apologize for not posting yesterday, I am writing this at DIA. I ran out of time yesterday getting ready to travel.

Play. Take a moment, a deep breath, and remember when you were a kid, say between the age of five and ten, how did you play? Feel it in your body as well as an image in your mind.

Who were you? Hero, astronaut, cowboy, fairy, princess, villain. Where did you play? Outside probably, with the not so gentle urging of mom, was there a fort, castle, planet or home? How did you play? Were you the leader, with friends, by yourself? What toys did you use? Sticks could be wands, guns scepters or did you have the actual toy?

Now, think about how, where, what, when and who YOUR child(ren) play? And I DON’T MEAN VIDEO GAMES. Is their play similar or different from what you remember for yourself? Is it unstructured, spontaneous and creative?

Studies are beginning to show how important play is for kids because it is 1) how they make sense of their world 2) how they process events in their lives and 3) engages, stimulates and expands their whole brain, not just certain areas.

Dr. Margaret Lowenfeld MD, in the 1920’s, observed the play of her own children in the sand, using toys and miniatures. She then introduced it with her clients, mostly children and realized how important this type of play was, especially children who were preverbal. Dora Klaff, who worked with Jung and studied with Lowenfeld, began applying Jungian ideas of the conscious, unconscious and the Archetype Psychology of Jung. Many other contributed and expanded on this theme to where Sand Tray Therapy is a respected and valuable tool when working with children.

Enough lecture, you can see that play is very important for children and that I am a strong proponent of unstructured, imaginative play for kids. Kids today can be so over scheduled, over homeworked that there is no creative down time. This is something that needs to change within the family structure and also at the academic level, to help our kids release stress, incorporate their world and stimulate their whole brain.

Next Week: How Finland integrates play in schools and what are the positive and negative results

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