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The Fear of Play

by Joan Almon
March/April 2009
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/the-fear-of-play/5018642/

Real play — play that is initiated and directed by children and that bubbles up from within the child rather than being imposed by adults — has largely disappeared from the landscape of childhood in the United States. There are many reasons for this, such as the long hours spent in front of screens each day or in activities organized by adults. In addition, preschools and kindergartens that used to foster meaningful play and exploration often spend long hours on adult-led instruction instead.

All of these are the outer manifestations of something deeper — a modern mindset that does not value play and is even afraid of it. Some fears are easy to identify. People freely admit they are afraid of accidents in play and want to minimize risk. Yet playgrounds that offer genuine risk, such as Berkeley's adventure playground, where children build two-story play structures with hammers and nails, tend to have fewer accidents than traditional playgrounds. Give children real risk and they rise to it; they learn how to handle it. Give them sanitized play spaces, and children often are less conscious of risk and have accidents, or take outlandish risks for the sheer excitement of it all.

There is ...

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