• Dianne Pede

Why Kids & Adults Need Daily Play to Thrive



Joy Discovery Social Skills Brain Development Fun

Stress Relief Creativity Literacy Skills Physical Development...

These are just a few of the benefits of play for children. The Pedagogy of Play project http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/pedagogy-of-play has been researching play and learning since 2015. And get this, cranky adults—a large part of play is mindset. More on that later.

Remember when you were a kid and spent hours lost in play? Your days were filled with its magical, light hearted innocence. The only stresses were being called for dinner, bedtime, chores, and possibly a sibling or playmate who waffled between being your best friend or your biggest nemesis.


You probably can't get rid of your annoying co-workers, but what if you could recapture many more moments experiencing those idyllic feelings from childhood? And while you're at it, let's make sure our children have an abundance of them.


Do your kids experience the enchantment of play on a daily basis?


I hope so. It plays a crucial role in many areas of child development.









The Power of Play: 6 Benefits for Child Development by Lori Blahey August 4, 2021, explains how play is beneficial to a child's:

  • Imagination and creativity

  • Brain development

  • Emotions and Behaviour

  • Literacy

  • Independence

  • Physical Fitness

Read Lori's article from the Edmonton Public Library Blog in the link below to find out the many ways play benefits your child.

https://www.epl.ca/blogs/post/importance-of-play-for-kids/


How Did We Lose the Treasure of Play?

At what age did play start being replaced with responsibilities and jobs that we rushed to and from? For some, it may have been the start of school because it wasn’t a good match to their learning style. For others, maybe a family crisis triggered the decline of play.

Perhaps, under the crunch of work and home responsibilities, you woke up exhausted one day and said, “Being an adult sucks. Where’s the fun?”


The more research I did for this blog post, the more excited I became. Count me as one of the lucky ones, because play never deserted me entirely, or vice-versa. I searched for it and found it in many activities. As a former teacher, many parts of my day contained the magic of play sandwiched between the never-ending before and after school duties. How can play not exist when you are surrounded by children excited about learning and having fun? If there was any way to add play into a lesson and make work fun and enjoyable, we did.


A simple tweak or addition is all that was needed to give an activity an element of play and a sprinkle of fun. Often this was done by giving the students a choice, a challenge, a comfort, or something new and different. Recent research suggests that the three elements comprising playful learning are: wonder, choice, and delight. Learn more about them from the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Usable Knowledge website. https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/06/summertime-playtime

The post from the above link, Summertime, Playtime by Leah Shafer, is the best summary of play I have read. It's an easy to read, research-based explanation of the many facets of play and well worth a few minutes of your time.


Do you experience the enchantment of play on a daily basis?

I hope so. Adults also need play in order to thrive. But where would we fit that in? How do we fit that in? We often don't have enough time to take care of all that needs our attention. Perhaps if we changed our mindset...it could happen. Here are a few examples of how I made my work playful.



Taxes and Fun at the Same Time—How is That Even Possible?

For me, report cards were like taxes, except they were due more often and took a lot longer to complete. For either task, I always added a dash of play to make it more enjoyable. I'd start with a comfy chair, relaxing music, a steaming cup of coffee or tea, or my former favourite, bubbly fizzy Diet Dr. Pepper—all rituals to make my brain smile.

Then, I’d set a timer for 45 minutes and challenge myself to see how much I could get finished—my little game to make it exciting by adding a challenge.

This would be followed by a 10 - 15 minute break that involved a quick task like laundry or photocopying. If I was working at school on the weekend, a sprint through the halls was also part of the break. {Don't tell anyone, but I was a regular hall runner when school was not in session.}

My ADHD brain loved and NEEDED the timer, still does for many tasks. It helps me to have super-focus and be in the zone to get the job done. The timer also provides balance, forcing me to take breaks and refresh my mind instead of working for hours on end. It gets me started and keeps me from being less likely to venture down time-wasting rabbit holes.


Another Dreaded Task Made Fun

Housework was always a curse inducing activity until I changed my mindset and turned it into play. Now, I put in my earbuds and listen to a podcast or some great music. It stimulates my brain enough to enjoy starting and even finishing mundane tasks.



It turns out that play is crucial for adults and has benefits similar to what children experience. According to the experts at HealthGuide.org, playing at work:

  • "keeps you functional when under stress

  • refreshes your mind and body

  • encourages teamwork

  • increases energy and prevents burnout

  • triggers creativity and innovation

  • helps you see problems in new ways"

Read more about these play perks in The Benefits of Play for Adults by Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shubin at:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/benefits-of-play-for-adults.htm

{HelpGuide.org is an independent, non-profit website that provides excellent mental health resources and information.}


Make Every Day a Play Day!

When planning play for yourself or your children, be sure to include a healthy dose of reading and book time, both a beautiful and beneficial way to play.


'It is a happy talent to know how to play,' said a very wise, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Wishing all of you an abundance of this happy talent!


I'd love to hear tips from you regarding your children and play. Share with us how you make your days more playful!


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Consult your doctor before playing if you have medical concerns.

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