Thursday, September 27, 2007

Play is a child's work

So, in this year of feeling out how learning at home might look for our family, I am so thankful for moments like the one pictured here. Aidan and August spent a good part of the morning constructing a castle with their bricks. I was glad to hear them playing together so cooperatively because I was trying to get a little housework done. When I made my way into their room they had both moved on to other individual activities. I then asked them to help clean up the bricks because I needed a clear floor in order to vacuum. In a way that always seems to surprise me they both got busy with my request. August and I were working together to stack up the bricks when Aidan suddenly calls out, "Hey, Mom! Look, I made a pattern!" Sure enough, the bricks were stacked green-red-red-green-red-red-green. Now, in the grand scheme of all the things Aidan will learn, this isn't amazing, but what is amazing is that something so fundamental to further, more complicated, mathematics came about so very naturally-- through play. It's becoming more and more clear to me that we, as a culture, are most definitely forgetting the importance of that playing. Just as I am learning how much my children need spaces and times of quiet within which to think so, too, do they need time to play.

It's so very interesting to hear the dialogue that ensues when August pushes around his big wooden car filled with fire fighters. "Okay, it's time to go. Okay. Goodbye, I love you. Goodbye, I love you." Now, I don't honestly think that the fire fighters up at Station 20 exchange "I love yous" before heading out to each call, but wouldn't it be great if they did? And maybe one day they will, if August joins the fleet.

You know, until I started making it a point to really hang with my boys this year and witness with new eyes what they do with themselves when given their own time, I think I had lost touch with that childhood lens--the lens that is still innocent and pure and gifted in ways that our clouded adult lens's aren't. And isn't that part of the gift of childhood? The freedom to pretend and play act and try on all that we might want to be, only to completely change our minds the next minute with no consequence? Ahh, what a gift.

It does seem that, with so much focus on measured academic success, the legitimacy of genuine childhood play becomes fuzzy. What a shame. We really do have the rest of our lives to grow up. Really! I'm still trying on new hats, maybe not on a daily basis, but I certainly haven't picked the one I'm going to where every single day until I die. Granted, there are bigger consequences to my fly by night hat exchanges, but still, I go into hat stores now and then. If that is our reality then we must keep play a reality for our kids.


  1. Oh, the wonderworld of play. In the haste of "gearing up" for the wider society, we often substitute structured "playtime" with the latest toys, games,etc. How can we possibly forget the absolute joy of imagination ? There is no boredom in the wonderworld of play. Play on, dear little ones.

  2. You summed it all up perfect once again Horry! I love you so much and all that you remind me of!