The Importance of Play

March 10, 2015

As I write this during our recent snow break, I am getting restless. The sights and sounds of parents and children laughing and sledding have awakened memories of snow days with my children. I have taken walks in the snow and ice, but it is not the same. My soul yearns for the days to play in the snow with my family and our friends. After several years, I even miss the wet clothes and boots and the endless cups of hot chocolate that I prepared.

When my husband and I were young parents, my in-laws gave us one piece of advice: play with your children.  Play is the time when children develop socially and emotionally. It is a time to take in the day, relax and chat and interact with other people. Children learn how to share the sled with others and wait for a turn. They learn how to assess a hill and navigate carefully down. Children develop coordination and physical strength through outside play. They learn how to deal with the frustrations of a snowman crumbling, a sled crashing, a snowball to the face and often must rethink a plan and start over again. Children learn how to win and lose at a game graciously.

Family can be a safe place to be yourself, at times your most unflattering self. Family is a group of people who genuinely excite in your successes. It is a place where you learn lessons about love, life, and relationships. It is a place to learn about consequences and receive forgiveness. Family is a place to learn about loyalty and protection.

Now that my children are adults, we still play together. The activities have changed, but the sense of play has not. Now, don’t misunderstand me. We have our share of disagreements and individual wants to negotiate. But, at the end of the day, through good times and bad, we know that we are family and that play is a tie that binds us together.

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