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I am currently reading, “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care” by Sally Fallon Morell. It has some interesting concepts about everything from the spiritual meaning of teething to vaccinations and illnesses.  I would imagine some would find it quite “out there” but a lot of it is actually quite useful. I found an interesting section titled “The serious business of play”, about kids play and their imagination. I will copy here, have a read and let us know what you think.

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“Only young children know how to play – to occupy themselves with objects while creating an imaginative narration in the mind. While the word “play” is defined as a recreation or amusement, for children, play is a serious business in which adults have no right to interfere. That’s right; notwithstanding the advice of countless childrearing experts who advocate “play time” with their children, parents should not share in a child’s play activities. Children’s play is an activity so foreign to an adult consciousness that no parents can really play with their children.

Consider the young boy playing fort, or the young girl imagining a long sailing trip to distant places. In children’s imaginations, they are there, they picture the fort battle,  they live their visit to foreign lands. Then adults come along with their rules, their how-to-do-its, and their book learning to interrupt the child’s imaginative thought patterns. The point of play is not to make something real with rules and books, but to create a world out of inner instincts. Adults generally speaking have too much responsibility, too many disappointments, too much school learning to play. Children should engage in imaginative play, with as many real or made-up props as they can, for as long as they can, until they are old as possible. Adults do children no service by interfering with this sacred activity.

Note that playing baseball or soccer doesn’t count as play. There’s nothing wrong with parents throwing a baseball or kicking a soccer ball with their children, but they shouldn’t teach young children how to perform specific skills unless the child specifically asks. Then – and this is crucial – briefly and succinctly answer only the question. For example, if your child asks how to hold a fastball, show him the grip and nothing more; don’t correct him if he is wrong, don’t say “good job” if he does it correctly, just keep throwing the ball and let him ask when he wants to know more. More importantly let him spend hours pretending to be Willie Mays, catching the last out in the World Series, off the roof, between the legs – that, for a child, is “playing” baseball. Little league and other organised sports for children is a job – it has nothing to do with play. Organised sports for children should not begin until age seven.

Don’t play with your children, just do your stuff – laundry, cooking, gardening, mowing the lawn, bird watching. If you see a beautiful bluebird, it’s fine to share this with your child, but don’t be disappointed if he wants to look at crickets in the grass rather than watch for birds.

Don’t teach them, don’t praise them, don’t correct them, let them experiment, play, imagine and create the world they want to live in. If they have questions, they’ll ask; your job is to answer, no more. Children brought up this way will create a new world, one that works for them and is respectful of all that is around them. That’s the purpose of the very serious business of play.”

What are your views on this? We would love to hear your thoughts!

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