Play Is a Child’s Work

2 boys“I’m bored.”

“There is nothing to do.”

These comments are heard way too often from children today. In our world with small nuclear families, where we likely live far away from extended family, don’t know our neighbors, and worry about protecting our children from threats of society, the spontaneity of childhood is diminished. Play dates have to be scheduled. Children expect adults to provide activities to entertain them.  Contrast this with an agrarian society where children were first expected to do their chores and free time was easily filled with a diverse number of activities and interests. Even if they felt bored they were not likely to admit it lest they be assigned another chore.

Today kid’s lives are frequently too structured.  Children at times are scheduled very heavily into different adult-driven activities. They are too often given unlimited access to TV and electronic games. While these might have a place in a child’s life, the right balance needs to be developed. Children need to be able to explore and figure out things on their own and to be spontaneous without being directed by an adult.

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Setting an Example

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It is commonplace how easily a child of three or four picks up a foreign language if exposed to it without any formal teaching.  Yet we are unwilling to admit that a child of the same age picks up our unconscious attitudes and prejudices without being taught–and often retains these longer than any of his formal education.

Sydney J. Harris

Today’s quote has a very important message concerning how children easily pick up the attitudes and prejudices that they see from the people in their lives.  We should always be mindful of how what we do and say can so easily be embraced by a child, whether we are a parent, a teacher, a friend or a neighbor.

For years, I have kept a notebook of quotes that I found to be significant.  This particular quote was something that I added to my journal when I was in my early 20’s, sometime back in the ’70’s.  I think it stood the test of time. Sydney Harris was a journalist for the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Daily News who passed away in 1986.

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You can find links to other WCW quotes here.

[Photo from Pixabay]