The Importance of Play

One of the readings from this class that has had the most impact on me is “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development.” Giving kids the space and time to play on their own is necessary for childrens’ “cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being.” Parents are under increasing pressure to schedule kids time down to the minute to maximize exposure to structured activities and academic enrichment opportunities. This may raise childrens’ test scores and improve their ability in quantitative measures, but it can also cause kids unnecessary stress and anxiety. Kids need time to be kids.

I study human-computer interaction. I really enjoy what I do, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of the projects and classes going on all the time. It’s made me think that children shouldn’t have the monopoly on play. Play is important for graduate students, too! Play helps you think more creatively, but it also helps you experience life and find problems that would be useful for you to address. I realize that the time graduate students have to play can be somewhat limited, so I found a few links with ideas about fun activities that can take your mind off work for a while.

  1. You can invite your labmates over for a party. Here are a few game ideas, including The Name Game and The Not So Newlywed Game:
  2. Some digital games can also help you relieve stress. This game called Meditation Flowers lets you “sing, chant, or drone your own sounds” to grow interesting graphical patterns on the screen. Play is not always about completing a predetermined puzzle. Freestyle play can be a great way to meditate and shut off the left side of your brain for a while.
  3. Another idea for finding time to play is to create a bucket list, then making an effort to cross items off the list. Make sure that ideas can be accomplished in a few hours or a weekend. For example, I want to go on an all-day hike through a state park.

Taking time to relax, have fun, and play will not only give you a break from work, but it will also make you better at your job. You really can have your cake and eat it.


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