When I was a teacher, I asked a fellow co-worker a simple question. As a young father, “How advice would you give me.? As a seasoned father who had 5 adult children, he responded quickly, I would have “LAUGHED MORE, PLAYED MORE, AND PRAYED MORE.

Those words have encouraged and haunted me as I have journeyed through raising four children with my wife. In particular, the play aspect of his words have become a focus of my daily routines and lifetime focus points.

PLAY – I think it’s interesting many things start with an element of play…

  • Childhood (play is what we do)
  • Organizations (team building time ice break activities)
  • Churches (picnics, fun events, fellowship times)
  • Relationships (adult “play dates”)

Today, I want to highlight play is not just for children.

Educator Sharon Davison. “Children experience authentic experiences with leadership, collaboration and deep problem solving through play.”

How often in the last week or maybe the last month have you said, “I have been working non-stop on this project…I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I know this is just a season that I need to push through…

National Education Association reports the number of teachers who believe kindergarten students should learn to read increased from 30 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010, the study said.

The world has marveled at the success that schools in Finland are having. One major reason, of course, is they include play. In fact, the first year of school is not at all about learning academics, but about learning to be social and responsible. Waiting a year fosters readiness on the part of students for academic learning.

Education Policy Researcher at the University of Virgina speaking to the idea of kindergartens reading said, While I agree, we should cultivate the intelligence of our students, we miss part of the recipe that makes this happen: play time. Time to recreate. Kids actually perform better in class when they get time away from academics. In fact, too many people think that when students play they aren’t learning; that it’s mostly a distraction. This could not be further from the truth.

So, what about PLAY for Adults?

We often attribute play to Vacation Time or Weekend Activities.

Benefits of play

  • Strengthens your heart
  • Reduces stress hormones and triggers endorphins
  • Increases productivity
  • Makes you more creative
  • Contributes to successful problem solving
  • Wards off depression
  • Improves cognitive health

So, what is play?

Think of play as more of a mental approach to activities versus the particular activities. Here are two elements I think help provide a good definition of play.

  1. Something we do for enjoyment…just for fun
  2. Intrinsically motivating—in other words, not something we need to be coerced to do -voluntary

What can play look like for you?

  • 10 minutes of a board game with a co-worker
  • Taking a walk
  • Playful objects like a spinning top on a desk
  • Playing an instrument
  • Quotes on a poster
  • Painting
  • Playing a sport
  • Colorful pens, pencils, crayons and large paper

Play is being joyfully immersed in the moment, there doesn’t have to be a final goal.