My Connections to Play

“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Brian Sutton-Smith
“In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.” – Lev Vygotsky

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The biggest support in play I had throughout my childhood was from my sister. Even though we are five years apart, well, probably because we are five years apart, my sister tried to teach me everything she knew. Being even more honest, I was on her coat tail trying to learn everything she knew : ).  I was never much of an outside child, and I was always very shy ad quiet, so if I wasn’t under my sister’s foot, I was often inside playing alone. The pictures above were my all time favorite toys growing up, and clearly they were suitable for playtime alone.

The most outside I did was in our backyard and my parents used to try to pick my yard time wisely because once I was out there I never wanted to come back inside! That is my reasoning behind my first quote. I used to play alone a lot, unless I was by my grandmother’s house, then there would be so many of my cousin’s playtime was non-stop. We played everything from blind man’s bluff to baby dolls to board games. Those are some of the fondest memories of my life. I just remember being full of excitement all day long; such a great feeling.

Play THEN vs. NOW:

When I was growing up I think we relied more on imagination than kids do now; however I do believe our level of imagination use in play had decreased in comparison to the generation before us. I grew up in the 90s, so we didn’t have much technology, but it was on the rise. However, I think the children of today are just technology driven. Games for fun and/or learning can be found on laptops, game systems, dvds etc. Children travel with TVs in the car, hand held digital games, ipads, ipods, the list goes on. I considered myself an “inside child” but the children of today are more than likely exponentially worse than I could have ever been. I wish that children could disconnect from technology and experience playing how my generation did growing up, before such advanced technology even existed. It was such a rush to know that the day ahead of you would be filled with playing with friends or family, running inside just to use the bathroom or eat/drink and racing to get back to the fun before you missed out on something. I wish children could experience the “agony” of having to go inside to take a nap when all you want to do was finish your game of hide and seek because for once, nobody could figure out your hiding spot. I wish children of today weren’t thrown into such an adult world and could stay in the innocence of childhood a little longer.

The Role of Play in My Life

As I stated previously, playtime for me consisted of either my sister trying to teach me some new skill, me playing for hours alone in our backyard, or summer and holiday days overflowing with play with my cousins. However, looking back on it, I am so appreciative of all of thee time I had to play. I think that literally being the last “unplugged” generation, as far as technology goes, has created in me the drive to keep my son from being engulfed in technology, and actually experience the kind of playing I did. I can only hope to be surrounded with family or friends with children who feel the same, so that he has people to experience it with. I think it’s vital for him to experience play in its true form so that he doesn’t become dependent, addicted, to technology like I think many of our youth are. I don’t want to raise the kid that has a meltdown if his game console breaks, or we lose wifi connections. I want him to be able to enjoy himself using his mind and body as the vessel of play.

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