Numerous studies have shown how important recess and play time are for a child’s full development. Unstructured play allows for children to have the freedom to explore, create, and discover all on their own. This fosters cognitive development, as well as physical and social development. Let’s face it, recess is a GOOD thing.
These days, though, unstructured activities have gone by the wayside. Remember when afternoons used to include long bike rides and shooting hoops at the neighbor’s house or summer nights were spent kicking the can and capturing the flag blocks away. In fact, the only time we were home as kids during the summer was for mealtime! Mom and Dad knew not where we were, but that we were safe playing somewhere in the neighborhood.
Now kids are scheduled back to back with piano lessons, gymnastics, Spanish tutors, baking classes, ballet, flag football, etc. There’s certainly nothing wrong with providing our children with great experiences, but PLAY time in essential for creativity, freedom, and development.
And, children aside, play time is important for us too! Yes, grown adults, working professionals: we all need to play.
Sure, a break from the workday and regular routine helps us to clear our head, foster some creativity and imagination, but it also helps with our day-to-day problem-solving abilities and our social skills.
Play time releases endorphins (we all want those) and improves our brain functionality. Unstructured time to either laugh, run and jump, or quietly color improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. FYI – this is the part of the brain that controls attention, perception, awareness, memory, language, and overall consciousness.
As we get older and adopt more adult responsibilities and roles in our lives, we often lose our playtime identities and forget what it means to simply “have fun.” Or, we get set in our ways and stuck in the mud about what we are supposed to like and dislike or do or not do in terms of activity. The fact of the matter is, we all desperately need to go back to this play time, this recess, each day so that we can be BETTER at the things we are “supposed” to be doing – #adulting:working, parenting, reading, writing, etc. We need play to live our lives fully – to be our best selves.
So, we’ve forgotten. What does “play” look like?
The standard dictionary definition of play is:
“to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”
“to wield lightly and freely; to keep in motion.”
And, how do we actually do this?
There are five main types of play:
- Rough and Tumble Play
- Ritual Play
- Imaginative Play
- Body Play
- Object Play
You can read more about those here.
In the meantime, head over to the bed for a pillow fight, pick up the Monopoly board, break out the paint set, take a hike, or build a Lego spaceship.
Whatever you do, “wield lightly and freely,” smile, have fun, and make it a great day!
*Photos via Unsplash