When they play, these students learn to read, calculate, and use computers with the same playful passion with which hunter-gatherer kids learn to hunt and gather. They don’t necessarily think of themselves as learning. They think of themselves as just playing, or ‘doing things’, but in the process they are learning.
Even more important than specific skills are the attitudes that they learn. They learn to take responsibility for themselves and their community, and they learn that life is fun, even (maybe especially) when it involves doing things that are difficult.
Alison Gopnik, a cognitive psychologist whose work I presented in another post also highlights the importance of play in cognitive development:
Play includes pretend but also out door play and physical activity. It also includes the importance of social interactions developed in play and she also notes that play does not necessarily requires expensive resources, but more a free space and some grown up support (whether in playing with, or simply allowing room for play).
Check also: http://www.naeyc.org/play
Questions for us to keep in mind:
- If children are deprived of play time in developed countries like the US, what is the situation in low-income communities?
- Per Rafael's post, what happens in context of time deprivation?
- How can we create opportunities for children to play - alone, with peers and possibly with their parents or other family members?