Some Thoughts About Play Around the World

I have noticed that kids in Scandinavia are allowed to play in freer ways than in the United States.  For example, in one elementary school that I visited in Norway, kids were climbing trees, and they were really high up – I was very concerned for their safety.  And yet the teachers seemed perfectly at ease with this.  In Iceland I saw kids playing on these gizmos that involved hopping onto a tire and zipping along this clothes line looking apparatus.

I’m sure something like that would not be allowed in our litigious society – it would be a law suit waiting to happen.  I’m going to be presenting on September 7 and 8, 2010 at the Annaliese Schools in Laguna Beach, California, and I was glad to read on their website that they endorse “mud play” at their schools. They noted that mud play was especially helpful for kids with behavior and emotional problems.

I just want to say hip-hip-horray when I hear things like that going on in education in the United States. Messy play is good play.  I was traveling in Asia and had a layover at Narita airport in Tokyo a few years ago and while I was wandering around I happened to notice a “play room.”  Initially I thought this was a great idea – having a place to reduce the stress of traveling through play.  But when I went in all the kids were playing video games – there wasn’t anything else in there for them to do but be a high-tech zombie.  I’m afraid that’s what a lot of people have come to accept as play in our society, but it isn’t play at all – it’s bunk , and it’s turning our kids into robots.

For more information about the importance of play in the development of the child, and the need to incorporate it into school life, see my book If Einstein Ran the Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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