I’ve been making an effort to listen in on my kids more during their independent play times recently.  I’ve been truly amazed to hear them interact with each other in all sorts of pretend roles.  They’re pirates, or puppies, or a family (and sometimes gender doesn’t dictate who’s the mommy or daddy, too!).  I have to say that I’ve loved ‘eavesdropping’ on their creative play.  It’s truly amazing to me what kids will do and think of and act out if just given a little time and space.  And while I know that I’m a much different mom than some, I kind of like that my kids can play really well without me – even at such young ages.  But, I’m also noticing that when I do interact in that time (and even get a little silly myself), I somehow wind up scoring HUGE points in their emotional banks.  So, I’m trying to learn how to do both well.

I know that one of the reasons that Charlotte Mason argues for so much outdoor time is specifically for this purpose.  To allow kids to just be kids.  To come up with their own games, played by their own rules (which can then, of course, be bent and broken on their own terms, too), and on their own time table.  And I love when we’re able to put aside the busyness of most days and allow for this time of decompression and expansion.  And now, as if we needed them to say so, the experts are backing us up on what we all already knew.  (Click here to read the article “Experts: Lack of playtime is hurting children”.)

Kids need to play.

Playtime=Learning time.

Not enough play results in depression, lethargy, and lack of creativity (just to name a few).

And if you didn’t believe it already, here’s one of my favorite sections from the article…

Vivian Paley, a former kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and now an author and consultant, argues that the most vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing with their peers.


“They’re inventing abstract thinking, before the world tells them what to think,” Paley said in her speech to the conference. “It gets them thinking, ‘I am intended to have my own ideas.”’

[I emphasized that last sentence because it hit me square between the eyes!]

So what are your thoughts?  How do you encourage this kind of play in your kids?  What are some creative ideas of how to incorporate more of this into our already busy daily routines?