When my children were young, they were “playing” all day long. I don’t think they thought of it that way, though. They were usually working on something. My son was building or drawing edifices or vehicles when young, building websites and a computer when older. My youngest was communing with plants and animals. She knew more botany than I did, by the time she was five, not from studying books, but from studying plants on her own, in her own way. My middle child was dancing around the house and reading beautiful literature, which is seldom read in shcools. Both of my girls took care of our housekeeper’s younger children, but an onlooker would say they were just “playing house.”
And several days a week, they’d have friends over and would play all day long and into the night.
Recently, when I was a speaker at the Life Without Instructions Conference in New York, I had the pleasure of conversing with Peter Gray, a soft-spoken genius who is doing the world a great service by speaking and writing about research indicating that children need more freedom in learning and life.
His article, The Decline of Play and Rise of Children’s Mental Disorders, will intrigue and reassure you if you are on the road to offering more freedom to your children. He talks about extrinsic goals vs. intrinsic goals. I know my children were always intrinsically motivated to learn. No one gave them any extrinsic reason to learn anything. They were just learning as they played.
You’ll undoubtedly enjoy Dr. Gray’s article. Save it to show the inlaws when you need to explain why your children’s freedom is good for them.