Early Childhood Development

What about PLAY?

It’s a feeling hard to beat – that joy and pain in our stomach when we laugh so much it hurts or have the tears of joy run down our face.  There’s nothing quite like being in a moment that stimulates true happiness – a moment of play which takes us out of time and all that weighs us down.

Scott Eberle, editor of the American journal of Play has defined the word, play as engaging in activity for the enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.  It also has very different meanings for each individual: playing with your kids, playing netball on a Monday night, playing cards.  You can play on your own or with others in a social setting.  For some people play, is second nature and others find it really challenging.

National Institute for Play (NIFP) founder Dr Stuart Brown says play is born by curiosity and exploration and comes in many forms; from object play to body and movement play; rough and tumble play; spectator play; ritual play and imaginative play.  He also adds that humour, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun, and plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults.

There are wonderful benefits of play, Brown credits the power of play as being able to transform our overall health and suggests play is the gateway to vitality.  He states that play generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community.

Play Research

Play unfortunately can be lost in an adults daily life.  The unique part of our species is that we are designed to play through our whole lifetime.  We shouldn’t have to schedule in play or tick it off, it should naturally be in our lives (I know I am guilty of having to schedule in play in my daily routine….dang it)  It should be essential that we don’t lose the power of play in our lives.  A famous Irish playwright critic George Bernard Shaw put it beautifully “ we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

I encourage you all to engage, in some free time, free spirited play that stimulates those muscles in your stomach to cramp from fits of unforgettable laughter caused by incredible joy from PLAY…. Get out of routine, do something different…..start today.

… Susan