Fridays with Franky: Making Time for Play!
Hi Everyone, It’s me, Franky, the Camp WeHaKee Dog! You have probably heard the line ‘Play is the work of children’. I get what that means, but I really dislike the underlying assumption that work is more important than play. For some reason play has been trivialized in our culture and throughout our educational systems. And these days with the excessive emphasis on academics and testing at earlier and earlier ages, play has been nearly eliminated from our schools, even at the kindergarten level!
Let’s take a look at that word ‘kindergarten’. It is a German word that literally translates to ‘childrens garden’. If you’re like me, you might consider that the equivalent of a great place to play! Although free play is repeatedly proven to help children acquire and build their resiliency, problem solving abilities, social skills and more, it is increasingly being squeezed out of the kindergarten curriculum by pressures to teach more reading and math. Sure it’s important to be proficient in math & reading, but without sufficient soft skills such as resiliency, problem solving abilities, social skills, that academic knowledge becomes irrelevant!
Reuters recently posted an article examining a study that suggests that play actually improves academic performance – Focus On Play In Kindergarten May Improve Grades. The study was lead by Clancy Blair of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. They used a program called ‘Tools for the Mind’ which involved several elements including “child-directed activities and sociodramatic play”. Blair explains further, “The key aspect is children planning what they’re going to do and making a plan for it and executing that plan. They’re practicing all the cognitive skills that are important for learning.”
Play is not trivial, it is not a waste of time. It is a crucial component to the comprehensive development of our children and youth. Bring back recess, it’s important!!
Imagine that, play improves academics. Yet, we continue to reduce and eliminate recess, extended lunch periods and physical education. Add to that the overscheduling that many of us parents are doing to our children in the after-school and evening hours. Play opportunities have evaporated for our children in our test saturated educational culture.
Play is one of the key educational tools our children need. And they need it desperately! The non-cognitive skills – that play so effectively enhances – are just what employers are bemoaning that so many young people entering the working world simply lack! Play is not trivial, it is not a waste of time – it is a crucial component to the comprehensive development of our children and youth. Bring back recess, it’s important!!
Once again, that is why camp opportunities like WeHaKee Camp for Girls are important. Play is embraced, it is the focal point of many camps programs. That is why girls who attend WeHaKee return home with a greater set of non-cognitive/soft skills allowing them to achieve even more academically. With stronger confidence, greater independence and deeper resilience, they are ready to navigate their world more successfully.
Perhaps that old phrase ‘Play is the work of children’ should be flipped around to say ‘Work is the Play of adults’. Just sayin…! Have a great weekend everyone!