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''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.''

Play is a word everyone knows but not everyone understands. Children understand play. They understand it so well because it still drives their curiosity. For adults, play has already been drowned out after the years of rote learning, standardized testing and teacher directed instruction. For many teenagers they retreat to the only adult free play space, computer games.

For the youngest children play has already been taken by the policy makers who care mostly about primary school readiness, reading levels, naming colours and solving addition and subtraction problems on a piece of paper. With this we have seen a decrease in children's free play over the last fifty years, an increase in childhood anxiety and stress as well as an increase in the school day. In response to these problems the policy makers have made new things to be taught to children like 21st Century Skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity). Wait a minute. These are all learnt through play!


''play is often talked about as if it was a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning''

John Holt

"Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activty of learners."

What children are designed by nature to learn for themselves are now being sold as a packaged program to help bring back these all important skills. Unfortunately these skills cannot be taught in a classroom and don't need to be. We know from the experts on child development that children learn the skills they need to survive when given the freedom to play. These long held research based truths are even supported by modern scientific advances like neuroscience. They continue to show that only in play is the brain at its most alert and active.


''Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.''

Supporting play isn't just the problem of the policy makers. Us educators also need to support each other and work together to bring play back. We need to reach out to families and show them that they don't need to worried about their child reading and writing yet. Through play children learn more deeply than any currciulum, worksheet or teacher led lesson. Through play children are at their most creative, collaborative, and focused. They are able to do things, retain skills and knowledge that doesn't happen through adult led classes or passive activities.


''Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible. No one can do more.''

Play is complicated and the benefits of it don't always standout like a worksheet with 10 nicely traced letter Aa's. Play is deep and meaningful and requires experience and skill to really see what is happening, what is being learnt, negotiated and achieved. Play has to come from the child. It is a choice to do, to try. It can't be produced or packaged.

So let's allow our youngest children to play, to choose, to learn in the way they are meant to because play is the way.

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