Get serious about play

“Fun is done solely for its own sake and gives us a chance to improvise, experiment, and make things up.”

Doesn’t life feel like the movie, Groundhog Day? We’re waking up to the same old, same old every day of the week. So let’s take a play break and have some fun. All large brained mammals and, according to some authorities, birds, share the ability to play. That’s what biologists and psychologists use as the broad term denoting almost any activity that is not work and is not serious. Play is beneficial and the lack of it could have detrimental effects. A study of successful, creative people shows that social play was a vital part of their healthy development. Emotional control, social competency, personal resiliency, and curiosity are all developed through play.

Play is typically self-directed and tends to use the imagination. Its value is in the activity, not in an end result. When kids play together, which is known as social play, they are not only learning the rules that govern social interaction, but how to adapt to different interactions.

And kids are learning through play. Activities like creating art, exploring new places, performing charitable acts, and learning are all deeply pleasurable. While fun can be vague and highly subjective, it is important and well worth engaging in. Play is a separate biological state.  It’s done solely for its own sake and gives us a chance to improvise, experiment, and make things up. Freedom and self direction are key elements of play. While parents can make suggestions to their kids, kids have more fun when they make it up as they go along. It’s also an opportunity for kids to try out being an adult. Play is a wonderful step towards following their curiosity and discovering a new passion. And for kids who want to play together they learn the art of teamwork, collaboration and even making decisions through consensus

As you set your goals for today, schedule some time to play and have fun. You won’t lose learning time; in fact, you’ll likely enhance it.  Here are some suggestions for playing as a family:

  • Living room game show. Ask your kids to come up with a premise. What’s the object of the game? Is it a team competition or individuals. What’s the prize for the winner?
  • Your own version of American Idol or They’ve Got Talent. This can become a global event. Invite friends and relatives to join a Zoom talent show.  Grandparents or other relatives can be the judges.
  • Stand up comedy routine. Ask your kids to write some jokes and do a stand up routine for the family. You can Zoom this to relatives, too.
  • Dress-up charades. Using clothes and objects from around the house dress up like characters in favorite books or movies. It’s a different version of charades.
  • Eating or Cooking competition.
  • Backyard or indoor obstacle course.
  • Family trivia. Compete to see who knows the most about the family.
  • Word search using the books you have.