The Importance of Play...

How do you feel about play? What do we even mean by the word 'play'? What is the importance of play?

Play has taken on a frivolous meaning over time. 'He's just playing...', we say, as if it's of no significance. And yet, many researchers in the fields of education, neuro-science and, indeed, play itself, are extolling its many virtues and, more importantly, what happens when it doesn't happen.

But why do we need to devote a whole workshop to this subject? Surely, children know how to play, and adults know how to play with them, most of the time. 

The first point is true. Given the opportunity, children know how to play. Even infants are playing when they smile at you for the first time, find their hands or feet, or start to reach out in curiosity for objects nearby.

The second point is not so true.

Somehow, we adults lose touch with our primary instinct to play. Life gets serious somewhere along the way, and when we become parents, we may feel pressured to teach, teach, teach, all the while calling our activity 'play'. Or else, we remember how to have fun, but try to control the experience. Let me explain what I mean.

Suppose you are playing - it could be a computer game, tennis, or a musical instrument. You're concentrating really hard. You've nearly levelled up, perfected your serve or mastered that tricky few bars towards the end.

Along comes Rachel - that's me - to see what you're doing. 'Hello,' I say, 'what are you doing? What's that? Have you tried doing it like this?' 

In your head, what's going on?

'Go away, Rachel!'

'Aargh! I've lost my concentration!'

'I'll have to start again now...!'

You get the idea. Annoying, isn't it? 

My workshop - The Importance of Play - will be a brief but powerful examination of what play means for the very young child. We'll talk about how to support healthy play for the child. We'll also look at how you can get involved without taking control.

I firmly believe in the experiential approach - learning through doing - having had many positive experiences of this in my own training. Come with a playful spirit and an enquiring mind. I won't tell you exactly what we'll do (I don't want to spoil it). Those reading who have already experienced it - you know who you are - will know why...