The Importance of Playing
February 15, 2019
These last few weeks have been tough going with regards to winter weather. But have you noticed that the days are getting longer? We have almost a full hour more daylight now than we had in late December. And on days when being outside does not pose a dangerous threat of frostbite, I think it’s a good idea to take advantage of the extra daylight. I hope your children will have a chance to get outside this weekend; perhaps for no other reason than for some good old fashioned play in the snow.
As educators, we’re reminded of the importance of play. It’s an integral part of a student’s day. I occasionally take time out of my day to be on the playground; watching and interacting with students as they play. It’s a joyous time filled with movement, energy and laughter. I see students running, jumping, creating and having fun. Together or alone, students of all ages engage in play; an essential extension of learning that makes the work in the classroom have meaning and context.
Researchers have confirmed this notion. “At any age, play acts to retain and enhance meaningful context, and optimizes the learning process,” say the folks at the National Institute for Play. Their studies have shown that play reduces stress and makes children more socially competent. Researchers at Temple University suggest that play even improves working memory and self-regulation (Hirsh-Pasek, 2011). Imagine that…letting your kids play not only makes them better students. It makes them better people.
Play isn’t just for kids. Author Daniel Pink, in his book A Whole New Mind, says that in today’s world of competitive business, the edge goes to those who are the “creators and empathizers.” Our current “conceptual age” demands that workers develop essential senses; one of which is play. Play, he says, brings humor and light-heartedness to business and products. So play is good for business too.
Daycroft students had a break from classes today and will have one again on Monday. I trust the extra two days in your weekend provides a good opportunity for some extra play time; the sort of spontaneous, creative, imaginative, device-free, in-the-snow, kind of play that will serve them well. Hey, I might even get the old sled out and make a few runs down the snow covered hill. I hope we’re never too old to find time to play.
- Edward Hollinger