I love watching my children play. Playing is learning. In the advent of progressive schooling, the advocacy to have fun while learning is strengthened. Educators, particularly those within the realm of preschool and primary education now embrace the concept of play.
When asked about my childhood memories, the most abrupt thoughts are traced back to memories of play — climbing trees in our backyard, playing a game of Cops and Robbers at the school grounds, playing make believe in my cousin’s room with a nice dollhouse. Those are really happy memories.
As a parent, I sometimes find myself watching my children play. Sometimes, I catch myself yelling, “Stop playing!” and then I think to myself, “Should I have said that?”
Play is defined as “what most children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests in their own way for their own reasons. “(DCMS, UK, 2004) Dr. Honey Lourdes Carandang furthers the definition by stating that play is when the child is MOST REAL. When children play, there are no extrinsic goals. There is no obvious intention. Their laughters are most pleasurable and sincere. Children at play are spontaneous. They instinctively run or hide or stop or scream.
Erik Erikson, the famous developmental psychologist gives a dramatic interpretation of play. He says, “Play remains an indispensable harbor for shattered emotions.” For some children, play is beyond what we see. Play heals. I guess this is true for us adults too. In play, wishes are fulfilled. There is a sense of power in play. It is coping. I will not be surprised to discover how play is instrumental in the life of a child whose parents are not physically present.
As parents, we want our children to be surrounded by positive emotions and to be equipped with wisdom and resilience, in preparation for a bigger playground. In play, all these are present
Thinking about these things, I learned when to step in and when to hold back. Now, when I watch them and have the urge to put their play to a halt, I pause for a while and watch. I listen to their conversations. I watch the active engagement at hand and marvel at how simple and happy life can be. Listen to the laughter. Nothing comes close to that shrieks of happiness.
The next question is, “When did I last play?”
But that’s another story.