Weaving Play Throughout our Days

Engaging in Play can Contribute to Intellectual Growth

Remember the pure, unadulterated joy of your childhood? When the world was your playground and every day held the promise of adventure? Remember those days of laughter, boundless energy and the exhilaration of running free? What if I told you that you could recapture some of that timeless bliss through rediscovering the joy in movement through play?

Play is a universal language, spoken and understood by people of all ages. It’s a delightful and spontaneous form of movement that ignites our joy and sense of connection. Children seem to grasp this concept effortlessly. They play without inhibition, creating their own games and rules, laughing and running with boundless energy.

However, as we grow older, we can forget that the simple pleasure of play isn’t reserved for children alone.

Incorporating playful activities into our lives can ignite the joy in movement. Whether it’s a game of frisbee in the park, a friendly round of hide-and-seek or a playful dance party in your living room, these moments of play can reconnect us with the sheer delight of play.

Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds in human history, once wisely remarked, “Play is the highest form of research.” Einstein’s life was marked by groundbreaking scientific discoveries, but he also possessed a unique perspective on the importance of play, curiosity and imagination in the pursuit of knowledge.

Einstein’s statement serves as a reminder that play and exploration are not frivolous distractions but essential components of intellectual growth and scientific inquiry. Let’s examine together how play can enhance the student’s educational experience, holistic development and promote creativity:

• How many ways can we infuse play into the curriculum to make learning more engaging and memorable for our students?

• What opportunities exist for play-based learning within the subjects we teach and how can we leverage them effectively? What resources, materials, or spaces might we need to provide that encourages play and creativity within the classroom?

• How can we create classroom environments that encourage curiosity, exploration and discovery? How can we promote lifelong learning and a love for exploration through play, even beyond the classroom?

• How can we balance structured learning with unstructured, imaginative play to ensure a well- rounded education? “So, how can one become a play champion and advocate for play?” I hear you whisper. To embark on this meaningful undertaking, that can positively impact individuals and communities, here are a few recommendations:

• To champion play, learn about the benefits of play in various aspects of human development, from cognitive and social skills to emotional well-being and physical health. Recognise that play is not just for children; it’s essential for people of all ages – pop up play opportunities or play streets help to create intergeneration play which have many benefits for your community.

• Start at the grassroots level by advocating for play in your local community. Engage with schools, community organisations and local governments to promote the incorporation of play spaces, policies and programmes. Attend school board meetings, city council sessions, or PTA gatherings to voice your support for play.

• Plan and host community play events, such as play days, family fun fairs, or sports tournaments. These activities not only promote play but also bring people together and build a sense of community.

• Leverage social media, blogs and other online platforms to raise awareness about the importance of play. Share research, success stories and play-related content to engage a wider audience.

• Encourage parents and caregivers to recognise the value of play in their children’s lives. Organise workshops or seminars to bring about awareness and encourage reflection about the benefits of play and how to incorporate it into daily routines.

• Be a role model for play by engaging in playful activities yourself. Show that play is not only for children but a lifelong pursuit that contributes to personal well- being. When was the last time you played on the playground with a young person or ventured into the world of play?

• Champion the cause of inclusive play, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of ability, have access to and can benefit from play opportunities. Are you ready to become a passionate play champion and advocate for play, making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities, all while emphasising the essential role of play in human development and well- being? Why not grab a friend or two and advocate together? Your future self will thank you for your playful approaches!

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Erin Steel

Erin is a dedicated educator with over 18 years of experience in education. As a Healthy Active Learning Facilitator, she has a strong commitment to promoting physical activity, healthy lifestyles and personal development among teachers and children. Erin’s expertise lies in Health and Physical Education. She works with senior leadership teams, teachers and students to create supportive and inclusive learning environments that empower students to become confident learners and communicators.