Tag: play

The Play Way

It’s almost three weeks since my previous WordPressing and so – concerned that I might be starting to run out of steam – have just gone back five years to my first ever post in search of fresh inspiration …

My voyage of exploration begins. I want to recapture the spirit of childhood, when we would set out from home with the deliberate aim of getting hopelessly lost. No point in going over old ground, after all …

freerange

Reading that again, I’m somehow reminded of these opening credits to a groundbreaking TV show:

Many people of my generation will know every word of this off by heart. Back then we wouldn’t have missed the adventures of the Starship Enterprise, ha, for the world! Pre-moon landings, outer space was still sexy and post-Beatlemania but pre-Woodstock we were eager for alternative experiences. Boundaries were boring and Star Trek, by definition, didn’t have any. Plus it employed some clever sci-fi screenwriters to explore some radical new ideas … well, radical by comparison with the fusty old 1950s of our childhood! Yes, in 1966, Warp Speed was the only way to travel …

In many ways they were confident times in which to grow up. The following opening credits feature two stylish special agents with a refreshingly chilled-out attitude to the Cold War hanging over their – and our – heads:

Looking back, the appeal of both shows was their optimistic and playful approach to serious subjects. Escapist, even naiive, their exploration and make-believe brought welcome extensions to our childhood. And come to think of it, much of our playing had involved pretending to be grown-ups. Adults appeared resourceful, capable, powerful. The very last person you’d want to be was Peter Pan – I mean, what sort of lunatic would want to stay a kid forever?

But now, looking back with a nostalgic eye, how we revere those precious moments of innocent discovery! As so often, the philosopher Nietzsche nails this idea:

‘In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.’

Ironic, isn’t it, that children yearn for adulthood while adults still feel like children? I suppose this doubleness in our nature is the basis of empathy between the generations. I find in playing with my grandkids a way to re-live my past through younger eyes as well as sharing in their fresh discoveries. I’ve just read what follows and every word of it struck a chord:

Play is the most valuable way that children learn. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

As young children struggle to create a desired effect with a toy, they discover that it isn’t always easy. They realize that there is perhaps a problem to be solved and that they have to practice to acquire and improve the skills necessary to achieve their goal.

Studies have proven that play with other children is also critical for the development of children’s social skills, They are developing skills and habits and attitudes that will stay with them throughout their lives. Play is children’s work, and they give a tremendous amount of energy and effort to it. It promotes emotional well being – awareness, acceptance, personal integration, coping skills – and builds values including empathy, trust and respect for others while they play.

It’s good to know that even an old codger like me can help in this valuable process! And through it I learn that life goes on and – who knew? – that it isn’t all about me!