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Piaget – Play Is The Work Of Childhood

Play Is The Work Of Childhood

I just read an article on how early kids are starting school in Canada – got there by a link on one of the comments from my post on red-shirting kids for kindergarten.  In this article was a favorite quote from Jean Piaget, one of the great modern psychologists.  He said simply, “Play is the work of childhood.”

Free Play Is Personal And Unique For Each Child

That statement prompted me to think more about what my kids choose to do with their free play time.  It’s fascinating to see how differently each one uses it.  They stay very true to themselves every time they make a choice about play.

My oldest loves to read and do individual projects by herself.  I notice that she often wanders and fidgets with things in the house, so the movement must be something she needs.  My middle daughter is very social, usually choosing to play with others rather than alone.  If she is by herself, she reads.  My youngest can spend literally hours playing “Little People” all by herself.  She occasionally likes to have someone do it with her, but usually prefers being alone.

I can’t tell you exactly what these free play choices do for my kids, but I know they have their reasons for making each one.  Something about their favorite activities pushes buttons, gears, and levers inside their young minds and bodies.

Playing Is Great For Kids – Remember, You Were A Kid Once

Free play help kids learn how to solve problems.  They get to put their imagination out in front of their eyes and in their hands.  They can experiment with different scenarios and outcomes in the safety of their play situation.  Really, adults should remember (or learn) how to truly play more often.  I am certain that as a child I did a better job than I do now.

I wonder what we would be like as parents if we made an effort to play a little more in our day.  Play with your work, play with your house chores, play with your dinner hour.  If it worked when we were kids, could we tap into that freedom and creativity a little more often?

What do you think, parents? How do your kids play when they get the chance?  Think you can put a little more play in your day?

Creative Commons License photo credit: jenni from the block

Piaget – Play Is The Work Of Childhood

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Piaget – Play Is The Work Of Childhood. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 12, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2010
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