Friday, November 11, 2011

The Art of Play

Play. What a simple concept.

Yet, I think this concept is lost sometimes. Between shuffling from school to practice to church and whatever else everyone does these days, I don't always think kids get enough time to play. I really dislike when we have a playdate and the other kiddo keeps asking me to play video games or watch TV and when asked what they want to do or given suggestions, they always say, "I don't know." I think it is because they just don't know how to "play."

When we moved here last year I was not so sure of the 7am-2pm school schedule...I thought, wow, that's early. But I have to say, "I LOVE IT!!" My kids get up early anyway, so the morning is not an issue for us. And I love that they get home early. That leaves enough time in the day to do homework, chores, PLAY, eat dinner and get to soccer, etc and then to bed by 7:30 without having to rush, rush, rush!! So it is good!!

We decided to forgo some yard space when we moved here too, in favor of lots of neighborhood kids for my kids to play with. We never had that before, and I have to say it comes with its ups and downs. All the kids congregate at my house 90% of the time. I LOVE that my kids have playmates and that when they are here I can keep and eye and ear on what is going on. And it is fun to see kids from 4-10 all playing together. They played outside all summer with pick up games of baseball and football and 4 square. There are always kids riding their bikes on the street. But, until I had an "aha" moment yesterday, I just could not understand why everyone always wanted to play here. My kids are the youngest around...why do they want to be here with the "baby toys?" And I finally figured it least I think I did....the TOYS.

Yes, I know I just said, "BABY TOYS" a minute ago. But yesterday as I watched 11 kids play a pretend game of cats and dogs in my house I realized that I bet most kids (all the kids are the youngest in their families) don't have to many "toys" left at their houses; it is all video games and more solitary "big kid" toys. No one has a toy kitchen and dress up clothes and baby dolls and swings and instruments and castles... and yet they ENJOY playing with those things. They can use their imagination and just "PLAY!" I am find myself smiling as I listen to their made-up games of house and puppies and cops and robbers. It really me happy that my kids can play!!

And honestly, I think that helps with school. At Logan's teacher conference last week his teacher was saying how he is so wonderful at making up and writing stories and that most first graders can not do this. She said the kids love listening to his stories and looking at his pictures and he has become a real role model for the kids in that respect. I least in my head...that this comes from being able to play; that there is a direct correlation. But I am no psychologist; I just go with what I have observed.

So get out and PLAY!!     It will do the body and mind good!!

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