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Is Child's Play Still a 'Thing'?

With all of the demands, expectations and standards thrown at children, I wonder if this is still an active expression.

Growing up, this is all we did as kids.

Playing in the woods. Playing in the front yard. Playing with more toys and "things" than we knew what to do with.

And we played with each other. All the time, until our moms called us inside. With every kid in the neighborhood because that is just what we did. As kids.

We even played in school. WHAT?! Yes, even there.

In the neighborhood or at school, play was how we made sense of the world around us, how we solved conflicts, and how we created some of the best pillow/outdoor cushion cover forts around.

We learned through it all.

Of course, we know that school is primarily where learning takes place. Learning doesn't start there, but that's another conversation.

Merriam Webster defines school as "an institution for the teaching of children". Not the best visual for learning... an institution... but let's consider the "teaching of children".

Or better yet, let's consider the learning of children. Yes! That.

How do children learn?

Through play.


  • forms the foundations for literacy

  • provides opportunity for self-regulation and problem-solving

  • gives children a chance to "work" cooperatively and collaboratively whether outside playing on the playground or inside using legos or blocks

  • helps children explore their world on their own without interruption from adults

  • provides child-centered learning

  • supports the development of fingers and hands, so they have the grip strength and fine motor control to hold a writing implement (when ready!)

And the list goes on and on...

Educational standards today are unrealistic. We are pushing too hard and too fast.

Children are not meant to sit all day in the "blue plastic chair". Or conform to unrealistic expectations for hall way walking ("Marshmallows in your mouth, hands behind your back.")

Children are missing out on critical development that is strengthened through play. Through hands-on learning. Through engagement with friends.

Play provides those crucial foundation skills (listed above) and, without them, leave children with gaps and deficits in processing, learning and engaging.

What's more important...

  • Meeting standards with rigor sitting all day? Being forced to hold a pencil? Conforming to what "everyone else is doing"? OR

  • Supporting child-centered learning, engagement and development through play?

I hope you picked #2.

Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play. -Carl Orff

Inclusiveology is all things inclusion. After all, inclusiveology means the study of being inclusive. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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