Friday, February 28, 2014

The Future of Play

The other day I received one of those parenting magazines in the mail and I was intrigued by one of the cover headlines:

"The Future of Play: It's Bright!"

I admit, I was excited.  Finally one of the mainstream parenting magazines was going to promote letting kids play!  Boy, was I disappointed when I read the article...

The author started out by saying how great it is that her daughter can have a tea party with her grandma.  Wait, that sounds good!  But then she went on to describe it...  They were having a tea party by using an app on her ipad.  There were no real tea cups.  They were watching cats on the ipad make a mess of a tea party =(

And then instead of sending the kids outside to develop skills through creative play, the author talks about websites that pick games that help develop a child's cognitive skills based on the parent's assessment.

Having used Skype to communicate with Sarge while he was deployed, I can see the benefits of using that technology to stay in touch with loved ones.  However, the author goes on to explain how this technology will be used to have your child's favorite character interact with them.

Here's what I want to see for the future of play:

More toys that require thought.  Buy those toys that require your kids to read the directions to put it together, but then throw them out and let them be creative and build their own designs!

And speaking about building their own designs.  Give them the craft supplies they need: glue, paper, crayons, duct tape...

How about the science experiments you did as a kid?  Let your kids have fun with them too!

Or how about good old fashioned fun outside?

In the mud too!

Allow them to experience new activities.  Ones that challenge their coordination and balance.

The article wasn't a complete loss.  The author did talk about communities that are building opportunities for play into their communities.  For example, one community is building play pods on their hiking and biking trails to coax more families to use them.  And she talked about giving her daughter a glue gun and letting her create her own world.

I'm not against letting your kids learn how to use technology.  My kids work on the computer as part of their schoolwork and they play games on my phone, but it's not their entire playtime, it's not their entire learning experience.  

Maybe it's time we let kids be kids and experience play the way they see it and not how we (as adults) do.

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