So I just finished reading this great book called Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, M.D. I think EVERYONE should read this book.
I decided that I’ve GOT to play for the rest of my life!! He mentions several studies that have shown how play can help reduce the likelihood of later in life problems like Alzhimers or Dimentia. People that actively played were a lot less likely to suffer in those ways toward the end of their life, and their family relationships were better, their work was more creative and innovative and in general they felt more satisfied with life.
Medina says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, the opposite of play is depression.” I totally agree!! When I’m not active and not playful I let work, life, people weigh me down and I really start to feel stressed and I definitely become less productive and less happy. Look at Albert!
It’s the same for children! Play is a child’s work.
I know a lot of families that are worried about their child exploring dirt, or drawing with markers or playing outside. And while normal and common sensical precautions need to be taken with letting your child play, you have to let your child play!! Play is when a child learns about boundaries with others, their own strengths and skills and what they most enjoy. Exploration in play is essential for children to learn how THEY learn and therefore prepare them for future success in life.
Medina shares a rather disturbing image and story in the life span of a Sea Squirt (pictured right). Paraphrasing from his book, he says that the sea squirt starts as a tad pole and it spends its time growing and exploring the sea. Once the sea squirt becomes an adult, it attaches itself permanently to a rock or a boat’s hull or pilings. It no longer needs to explore the world as it did before but gains enough nutrients to survive just through the passing current. As Medina says, “Its life becomes purely passive…the couch potato of the sea.” At the end of its life, the sea squirt digests its own brain!!!!! SICK!!!!
The basic principle here is, use it or lose it!
Let your child learn, explore, and follow their bliss. Play, even if it sometimes is frustrating to you as a parent, is essential to lasting learning in a child’s life!
What are your favorite things to do when you play with your kids? Any great ideas out there?