You may have noticed that the aged care home scenes in When I See Grandma, have the young boy playing with older residents (in this picture he's playing 'peek-a-boo'). Play can be a most effective tool for connection with others across apparent barriers. So when I saw the NY Times headline: "Let the Kids Learn Through Play?" I couldn't resist clicking - it's a pet topic of mine, because play is so important - for all of us, not just the kids. But let's start with them...
The article cites research that suggests that the current push for formalised, didactic teaching to help our kids get ahead in this competitive world may in fact, be backfiring. To quote, abandoning play for teacher-led formal instruction "may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn." You can read the full article here - it is well worth it.
It's not only children who benefit from play. Stuart Brown, the pioneer researcher on play, has found: "Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age." You can watch his TED Talk here)
As one article put it - Einstein said: “'Play is the highest form of research.' There is, the theory goes, a reason Archimedes shouted “Eureka!” in the bath, not the laboratory." (Quoted from The Guardian)
And from Psychcentral: "Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships."
So let's ensure that everyone, young and old, has time to play - and to keep playing - for life!
PS Play is clearly also essential for writing - but that's another post!!
But what else does it say? See those odd socks lying patiently there for their mate to turn up? That tells you that I am a sock-optimist. That's right - I refuse to give up the hope that one day, miraculously, the missing little foot-mates will turn up in the next load of washing, or under the bed when it gets vacuumed next (supposing that they weren't sucked down into the intestines of the machine). So why am I letting you into the privacy of my bedroom?
To show you my latest play-pals - don't blush!...
Now I have a reason to toss out all those odd socks from my draw - to give them a new lease on life - a new personality away from being the left-behind twin - a chance to be re-invented into something more exciting than whatever dark dungeon their escapee mate has been teleported into. No more do I need to confront their soppy sad-sock looks every time I open my draw.
A bit of 'nip and tuck' and they're ready for play.
I'm sure they'd prefer a life of squeezing, hugging, chewing and kissing than being trampled through rough concrete, prickly grass and jutting stones for the rest of their hard-wearing lives?
When the wayward twin sees what fun they are missing, perhaps they will be tempted to return?
Stay tuned... now I've set the scene for my next post - on the importance of play.
Many of these sites also have bonus material such as author interviews, articles and news.
If you want to take it a bit further with the kids - some of these sites also offer fun learning activities to go with the book of your choice! See ABC Jenny and My Little Story Corner.
And don't forget, your local bookseller (especially if you are fortunate to have a specialized children's bookshop) is always willing to give expert advice!
So best wishes in your adventures in children's book land!!