Before I publish my observation, I am going to clarify that my only claims to expertise are that I used to be a child and that I am a mother of two, big sister of six, and Aunt Nan to...well, it's hard to keep up with that number. I have no degrees or certifications. I don't even have any resume-worthy work experience in this area. So this is just an observation, nothing more or less.
Playing is as vital to a child's future success as working is for an
adult's. Fred Rogers said, "Play is often talked about as a relief
from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.
Play is really the work of childhood."
When a child plays alone, he learns to be independent. When he plays
with others, he learns to cooperate, influence, share, and communicate.
While he plays, he experiments. He learns that the steeper the slide,
the faster the ride down. He learns that the sun turns a marvelously
muddy substance into a hard, dry cake. He learns to control his body as
he balances one more block on top of a tower as tall as he is. His
attention span lengthens as he follows Lego directions to complete increasingly
I agree with Mr. Rogers. This is serious! When he plays, he
practices being an adult, which is what he will be for most of his life.
What about the "serious learning?" There is certainly a
place for that, and it must be faced head-on with diligence and discipline, but
it should not preclude play. Play prepares him for "serious
learning" and gives him experience to draw on as he works.
Handwriting is easier because of the hours he spent grasping knobs on puzzles,
doing lacing cards, and manipulating tiny Legos. Historical figures and
events are cemented in his memory when he dresses up and acts out a story after
I read in the comments of a blog post recently (I'm sorry I can't remember
where), "What is learned with pleasure is not soon forgotten."
I believe that a child’s play should not only be allowed but respected and
encouraged as a means to becoming a well-rounded, intelligent, and successful