Fridays with Franky: Play is So Underrated!
Hi Everyone! It’s me Franky back for another week of WeHaKee dog wisdom! This week I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart! Play is so often regarded as something of little or no value – how many schools have either curtailed or completely eliminated recess? Many think that you play when you have nothing else important to do. But mounting evidence is suggesting that play is of significant importance in the development of our children and youth. And it even has a major role in helping our kids develop those highly embraced ’21st-century skills’.
A segment on NPR’s All Things Considered (Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills!) took a comprehensive look into the subject of play, exploring some of the factors that have had a major impact on how the concept of play has changed. The reporter, Alix Spiegel, pointed out that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, play had a very different meaning than it does today – it was considered an activity or an action. But as toys moved in as the central focal point of our children’s world, play became that of an object. Ms. Spiegel points out that the first television advertisement for a toy (outside of the Christmas season) occurred during the debut episode of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club.
The segment continues to explore research that is clearly pointing to the developmental significance of play. Children show great growth in the area of self-regulation – “Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline”. The development of self-regulation is a direct result of the self-talk kids use in free play as they learn to creatively structure the environment around them. But with more and more toys and other ‘developmental tools’ marketed to parents to enrich their child’s life, free play has greatly diminished. And guess what, so has the ability of today’s children to self-regulate effectively!
In our overprotective need to manipulate our children’s’ environment in hopes of having them have more enriched and successful lives, we have taken away one of the most important elements of childhood development! Add to that our schools’ misguided focus on standardized testing and evaluation at all costs, we are seeing the few areas where play could flourish in our schools rapidly disappear – recess and physical education!
Well, thank goodness for camps like WeHaKee Camp for Girls. Certainly camp has lots of activities and equipment to enhance those activities, but it also provides kids with ample opportunities to be creative, to safely manipulate their environment! At WeHaKee, play has never been considered what you do when you have nothing important to do – at camp, Play is the most important thing you have to do!
Camp… provides kids with ample opportunities to be creative,
to safely manipulate their environment!
Well, if it were up to me, this humble camp dog – camp would last for 9 months a year and school would be only 3 months! Have a great weekend everyone!