Playtime! But why? I’m so exhausted!!!!

05 Jun 2015

BY: trini

Education / Inspiration

by Carolinda “Trini” Myers-Murphy, MS CCC-SLP, COM

We all have fond childhood memories of playing. Playing through the recent years however has changed. For example, have you been to a child’s birthday party recently? Where once upon a yester-year we had “pin-tail-on-donkey”, “bobbing for apples”, and piñata wars; they’ve been replaced by kids comparing apps and challenging each other to a multitude of video games. Socialization looks like social media to some.  And then we have to rush to the next soccer practice, or adult driven get together.

Please don’t mistake me, I understand that we have to incorporate technology into our lives. It is in essence a different language that kids need to have a substantial amount of exposure to in order to function in our culture today. What I am trying to say is that it does not however replace the human touch, the human eye to eye connection (or even occasional staring contest), intonation of speech, or ability to inference non-verbal language.  Many of these skills (and more) are learned through good ole fashioned play.

Another factor to consider is the increasing demands on developing academic accolades, children are being pushed younger and younger to excel. So to some parents, it’s understandable that playing is a luxury. But is it worth it to sacrifice playtime in lieu of reading/writing, and math (Especially for kids with special needs)?  My quick and dirty answer?  YOU BETCHA!

Research is pointing towards more of correlation between cognitive development and socialization in the early years.  In older children, playing has been linked to:

  • growth in memory
  • expressive language
  • symbol recognition
  • self-regulation
  • increase in literacy skills
  • an increase in negotiating skills
  • understanding roles and rules and categorizing themes and roles in relationships.
  • prioritizing
  • delaying gratification
  • consideration of others feelings and perpectives
  • acting on “purpose” instead of being reactive

… to name a few.

So playing IS crucial. Playing is important!  How do we play on purpose in our crazy crazy world filled with agendas, adult directed activities, social media, and technology all stealing our focus from playing?

As a mom, it’s always a struggle to find the time. But it is possible to intertwine playtime with our schedule and family time.  One of the best books that I recently had the pleasure of reading is called , “Play on Purpose” by Karin Perry and Sue Hoge. I’m considering purchasing a hard copy to keep in our library here at Speech Solutions as a reference for parents. Another AMAZe-a CRAZE book that I hold here in my office resource library is called “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards” by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Diane Eyer.

There was once a time when playing was just part of being a kid in Hawaii. With some shifting in our thoughts, we can relax (and help our children relax) about forgetting about all the educational hype and needing to get them into a cuzillion extracurricular activities, and passing a cuzillion interviews, and getting home at 8:30pm to …. just being a kid again.  (Phew… breathe) It’s the best way to nurture a growing mind, and even more importantly, a growing, contributing, nurturing and understanding human being (vs. doing) into our world today.