Yes, free play IS more important then those expensive lessons

Did you know that there are conferences now on how to play with your children?  And that books are written on the importance of play for children?  How did we get to a point in our society where free play isn’t just a normal aspect of childhood?  Somehow we’ve gotten way too structured and demanding about young children reaching predetermined levels of accomplishment – even at 3 years old!!

Here are a couple of great articles about the importance of play.

The first is from The Atlantic:

All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed

By Esther Entin

For more than fifty years, children’s free play time has been continually declining, and it’s keeping them from turning into confident adults

The second is from Huff Post:

If We Don’t Let Our Children Play, Who Will Be the Next Steve Jobs?

by Darell Hammond

I love this quote by Jobs:  “School was pretty hard for me at the beginning. My mother taught me how to read before I got to school and so when I got there I really just wanted to do two things. I wanted to read books because I loved reading books and I wanted to go outside and chase butterflies. You know, do the things that five year olds like to do. I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me.”

This quote that I saw on facebook fits this topic perfectly:

“Be careful what you teach.  It might interfere with what they are learning.”  -Magda Gerber

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5 thoughts on “Yes, free play IS more important then those expensive lessons

  1. I agree w/importance of free time/play. But I think there comes a point/age when you need to say “Okay, time to dig in and work hard to accomplish some goals.” I guess you can still work in free play, but life can’t be all play or even mostly play if you want to develop talents, make good grades, etc.
    I just read this article and found it very interesting (and amusing). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

    • Well, as you and I have discussed through e-mail, I think both styles of parenting described in that article are horrendous. In terms of the balance of free play and work, though, from what I know of your parenting style, you strike a good balance in that. You’re not that parent (like the author of the article you cited) who is constantly pushing your children to achieve and perform, not constantly taking them from one private lesson/sports team to the next. They have their time to focus and have formal education, and outside of that, they get to play. That, for the most part, is what these two articles are talking about. Children learn way more in free play than most adults realize, and we must allow them that opportunity.

      • Oh, and by the way, I don’t care a thing about good grades. I care what my children are learning, and frequently grades are absolutely no indication of that. But that’s a whole different topic. 🙂

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