Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Connection to Play


When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.

Fred Rogers
American children’s television host

It is a happy talent to know how to play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
American writer

The most essential thing for play when I was a child was friends.  When I was a child we played from the time school ended until dinnertime every weeknight.   Weekends consisted of unstructured baseball games at the schoolyard. We rode our bikes everywhere all summer long.

The play equipment we had was huge and dangerous but we were so proud of ourselves when we made it to the top of the tall slide or the cage at the top of the rocket.

We pushes friends as hard as we could on merry go rounds and cheered them on to  jump off high flying swings

       The play I remember in my childhood was largely unsupervised.  At least it felt that way to us.   Large groups of neighborhood children would meet at the school yard and play until dinnertime. There were baseball and kick ball games. We practiced new tricks on the bars and chased each other with tag and hide-and-go-seek.   Very few times do I remember playing inside.  Mostly, I think that was reserved for birthday parties and  wet winter day when you and one or two friends played in your room.  My house had a large covered porch and I remember my brother, myself, and all our friends sitting out there playing on rainy days. We rode bikes all over the neighborhood,  everyone knew the boundaries of the neighborhood and we ran free within these limits.  Because I lived across the street from a school, I played a lot on things like swings and monkey bars.

       Today parents have to be much more vigilant when watching their children.  Play is more often something that is prearranged with play dates. This may have to do with the fact that more often than not, both parents are working and the children go to childcare after school.  Their group of friends may not be from their local neighborhood at all, but where their childcare time is spent.   Outside activities in childhood now are also more organized.  Children join teams for every sport imaginable. They are missing the fun of making the rules as a group.  We would have rules that  handicapped the really good players so that the younger kids had a chance.  We learned to agree as a group, and to look for the fairness in situations.    Much of a child’s play today is electronic.  We didn’t have Nintendo or computers in my childhood.  Today’s  children in my experience, need to be prodded to leave the gadgets at home and just go and explore. 

I love play and I have stayed active throughout my life.  I took my kids to the park and then grabbed a swing myself.  It is important to remember the value of spending a couple hours just letting go. Forgetting those adult responsibilities and just playing. 


Kathryn Price said...

I love you your first quote. It is a great explanation of how children play during early childhood. It is amazing how children manipulate objects and use their imagination. You brought up a good point about how play was unsupervised years ago. It does seem a lot more structured these days and most of the time parents are organizing play time. I enjoyed the picture of your friends. What would we do without our friends when we were younger?!

Janille said...


I loved your quote on play. When I grew up children were unrestricted as far as their imagination goes...although now, with playstations, xboxes, ipad, gameboys, t.v., iphones, ipads, leadfrogs, etc...children do not engage in PLAY!!!

tiffany said...

That has got to be the coolest looking play set in history! Mine was not quite as ellaborate, but we had plenty of fun on it. I also used fred rogers as a quote I think the man was onto something...

Child at Heart said...

I loved reading your blog entry. You are so right about the freedom of playing vs now. I was able to to roam free without fear, when I was little with my siblings, and now, if you dont keep an eye on your children, the risk of kidnapping is REAL. I love that you also had a lot of interactions with friends, and that you all use to explore together. Memories of childhood, keep the heart alive, and having or creating a good earlychildhood experience, will oneday spill over to our children's lives once they are parents. Great entry.

Nichole said...

Great post! I really love the photos! It is my hope that I can provide my daughter with an environment where neighborhod kids can go outside and play...climb a tree, or ride bikes to the park. We currently live in such a neighborhood,so as I was reading your post I thought about some of the older kids I know that live here. Given the space to create and play naturally, children are truly able to take control of thier environment in a way that helps them learn.