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Posts Tagged ‘play’

Summertime! What memories do you have of time spent as a child during June, July, and August? There may be summer chores that come to mind like tending the garden or mowing lawns. But I do hope that you have some freedom memories as well, like riding your bike, swimming, spending time in the woods, or other outside pleasures.

Child playing in spraying water

My first tendency is to create plans and then strategically schedule, schedule, schedule. How can we squeeze in this trip before that trip and still fit in camps? How can I make sure my kids are reading regularly and contributing to household chores?

Then, in the midst of this sea of questions, float images of my own childhood memories. Many of them are of the spontaneity of summer. Cannonball competitions at the community pool while 80s pop music blasted over the speakers. Swinging on the big tree swing at our family shelter by the river.

I want that for my children. In these transition years from child to adult, they are not little adults, they are adolescents. Play is so important that it has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as “the right of every child.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says that play, or free time in the case of older children and youth, is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

Children paying ball outside in a grove of trees

This summer I want to intentionally let my kids be bored at times. Why is that such a button-pushing word for many parents? Have we really failed as parents if we hear “I’m bored” from our kids? We have many jobs as parents, but it is not our job to constantly entertain and provide things for our children to do. They will create their own play. Carrie Shrier, Michigan State University Extension, explains that complex play takes time to develop. It involves rules, conversation, negotiation, and organization on their part, not ours. Resist the temptation to give children something to do. You might be surprised how involved and complex their play becomes when adults don’t interfere.

In our home this summer, we will still have expected times to go to bed and rise and shine. There will also be expectations for barn chores, house chores, and yard chores. But, I hope my kids will be pleasantly surprised that their “rules making mama” expects them to play and explore in their own way – technology free – each and every day.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Champaign County

Sources:

Shrier, C. (2016, June 8) Five rules for summer play. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/five_rules_for_summer_play

Yogman, M., Garner, A., Hutchinson, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics, 142(3). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2058

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“Want to come out and play?” This simple question was the catalyst for many grand adventures as a child. Whether we explored in a park or played a game of tag in the back yard, we had fun!

a tire swing

As an adult, do you ever wish someone would ask, “Do you want to come out and play?” If so, maybe it is time to take a break from your normal routine and “Go Play”.

What is play? By definition, play means “engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

“My take is that any activity can be play or not play. The secret sauce is playfulness.” — Ben Mardell, researcher and educator

Do you need motivation to make time for play? Consider these important aspects of play:

  • Play is freedom. True play is not a duty but the desire to engage in the activity.
  • Play is the means, not the end. Play is about the process, not the result. Play means engaging in an activity for the joy of the activity.
  • Play is present-focused, not future goal-oriented. To actively engage in play, you must be in the current moment with a creative, active, and focused mindset.
  • Engaging in play keeps our minds sharp and memories as strong as we age.
  • Children do as we do, not necessarily as we say. This is an added reason to make time for play. Be an example to the children in your life.

If you need some fun ideas, you can: 

a dog playing fetch in the snow
  • Play fetch with a dog
  • Color a picture
  • Play charades
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play board or card games
  • Dance like no one is watching!
  • Explore a new street. This may sound like a strange suggestion, but consider the experience below:

I signed off work and headed out to explore a new street about 15 minutes away by foot, and I’m glad I did! The sun and the breeze welcomed me right away. I felt my body move effortlessly as I took in all the sights that I can’t check out when I’m driving. Plenty of flowers were blooming and fall decorations were beautifully placed on doors and on lawns. I found a fairy garden with toadstools for chairs and seashells marking a garden path. The shells instantly took me to Cape Cod for a restful mental break I hadn’t expected. I saw neighbors chatting on every street and many waved to me – it boosted my spirits to see such camaraderie! It felt like I was in a Disney movie! I came home refreshed and content.

If you desire an experience like this, I encourage you to find a friend, partner, or child and ask the question we all love to hear, no matter our age: “Want to come out and play?”

Written by Melissa Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Elkind, D. (2008). Can we Play? Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_we_play

Gray, P. (2008). The Value of Play. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-gives-insights

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