Friday, 4 September 2015

What is Play? Hmmmmm......

When we think of a child or portray a child in any medium, what is the predominant image that comes to mind? More likely than not, it is the image of a child or children Playing.
So, what after all is Play and why is it important? What kind of play do children like? What are they gaining out of this activity?
Let us work on a basic premise- That each and every child is born with the natural drive for growth, development and learning. I think this bottom line no one who has anything to do with children will argue with. Given that this is so, what is the most natural method by which the child reaches these developmental goals? Play, of course.
To define play is at the same time easy and very difficult. It has been called many things- “the work of the child”; “the vocation of a child”.
Children take ownership of all their learning and new information when they play with it. Moreover play is probably one of the most predominant intrinsically motivated activity, which supports positive tendencies like curiosity, alertness, creativity and divergent thinking. All the traits which we try to “inculcate” in a child by artificial and contrived means. As it turns out, all that it requires is- time and facility for free play.
Play also builds competencies, skills, success and confidence in the children in a very natural manner and ensures that these traits stay for a long time.
Play, especially pretend play, helps the child gain autonomy, express emotions, learn cooperation and sharing, accept diversity of various kinds, and helps compensate for feelings of inferiority.
Clearly children learn a lot of things from play, but more enriching reward for the child is the sheer pleasure and happiness it brings to the child. Play has to be thought of as a goal in itself and not a means to an end. The other benefits have to be counted as “bonus” or “side benefits” of play rather than the goals of childhood play.
What do children like to play with? Given all the technological advances of today’s fast-paced life, there is still no toy better than a caring and giving adult. Nothing replaces the human interactions in the child’s environment.
Is it not strange that we have to do propaganda and float policies to "encourage" something that was second nature to us, and is as natural as breathing for children across generations and countries? Think about it.......

1 comment:

  1. I like the basic premise you made. I have found that children at an early age do not need fancy toys. I remember my daughter playing with a string for a long time. Today, it is difficult for her to find someone to play with - everybody is busy with a class of some sort - including a structured method of play. Is it that we are all very busy and chasing something or our lifestyle and society has changed so much that we are unable to send our kids by themselves to play? A sad commentary