Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old-Fashioned play

Especially in light of KB's birthday coming up... and the eyebrows being raised, as to the simple items we requested... I wanted to share this excellent article on npr about all the benefits of "Old-Fashioned play'. Before all the commercialism, the focus of play was on an activity rather than an object... and used imagination & make-believe - which in turn developed critical cognitive skills & emotional development, among other things.

Chudacoff's recently published history of child's play argues that for most of human history what children did when they played was roam in packs large or small, more or less unsupervised, and engage in freewheeling imaginative play. They were pirates and princesses, aristocrats and action heroes. Basically, says Chudacoff, they spent most of their time doing what looked like nothing much at all.

"They improvised play, whether it was in the outdoors… or whether it was on a street corner or somebody's back yard," Chudacoff says. "They improvised their own play; they regulated their play; they made up their own rules."

Even I remember - though I am not that old - being sent out into the backyard for hours. to play. - Just us six or seven kids, a tire swing, a simple swing set (consisting of one swing & a slide), various discarded household items (several pots & pans, an old cinnamon broom, some wood, etc), a few balls & Frisbee's, good ol' Mother nature.... and our [extremely] creative imaginations. And while it may not seem like much, now... we honestly thought we had the world. We ended up having so many awesome adventures out in that seemingly giant back yard! It became a home to be kept.... a jungle to be explored... a castle to storm.... mystery to be solved... or one of many other exciting places to be discovered. A stick became a sword, bow & arrow or some other prop... wood became floors, planks, and who knows what else... berries & other foliage became food , medicine, decorations, clues, etc... vines got twisted as jewelry & crowns... and in and among the trees were our forts, castles, "clubhouses"... :-) But most importantly, as our minds grew... so did our sibling relationships. ~ We grew together as friends... a unit... a team! Sure there were instance where we didn't get along... or that we pined to get inside out of Florida heat! But as any person wanting to keep their sanity whilst residing in a tiny 600sq feet and managing 7 little ones (age 10 to baby) running around.... there were many times the moms laid down the law... and for the most part, we didn't seem mind at all. ~ I still think fondly of this one tree that I would climb - nestling myself comfortably in the branches, just to get away for a few minutes & think. Yes indeed, those were the simpler times....

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