Jump to content


children's play and complexity

Recommended Posts

I wonder if play is actually more complex than school work.


I have watched my dd (12) over the years as she played. She had her own one room school with about 20 stuffed animals and they all were different ages, were on different educational levels for different subjects, had different personalities, different interests, and would interact in complex ways with the teacher and with each other.


Other times, she would draw an entire town with chalk on the driveway or construct a town in the basement with blocks, small cars, buildings, houses, stores, schools, etc. The people in the town would interact in complex ways with each other.


More recently, she and her friends put on a musical, "Annie". And I just realized how complex that was. They each played multiple characters, sang, danced, wrote the script and adapted it to their circumstances, worked on costumes, etc. If you think about it, musicals are very complex- an interplay of music, the various characters, dialogue, dancing, etc. They put on an excellent performance.


It appears to me that when left to her own devices, she comes up with complex situations to learn to deal with complexity. If we assign her school work, it is usually less complex. Learn the times tables or learn the states or the presidents or whatever. More straightforward memorization than complexity.


Reading, music, gymnastics and games are other complex things that she enjoys doing. I wonder if complexity is important in learning and brain development and that is why children naturally often play in complex ways.


But adults usually teach in non-complex ways. Schools and textbooks have more straightforward, simple approaches to things. Is that why school is boring?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's an interesting book by David Elkind called "The Power Of Play."


There are also a lot of good quotes about playing!




Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.

Diane Ackerman

Contemporary American author



Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.

Abraham Maslow

American psychologist



Whoever wants to understand much must play much.

Gottfried Benn

German physician



Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.

Joseph Chilton Pearce

Contemporary American scholar


Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. Fred Rogers

American television personality



A child loves his play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.

Benjamin Spock

American pediatrician



Play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.

Frank Caplan

Contemporary American author



People tend to forget that play is serious.

David Hockney

Contemporary British painter


Do not…keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.


Greek philosopher

427–347 BC


Deep meaning lies often in childish play.

Johann Friedrich von Schiller

German poet



Children at play are not playing about. Their games should be seen as their most serious minded activity.

Michel de Montaigne

French essayist



Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.

Roger von Oech

Contemporary American creativity guru


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.


Greek philosopher

427–347 BC


Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

Henri Matisse

French painter



Play is training for the unexpected.

Marc Bekoff

Contemporary American biologist


Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.

O. Fred Donaldson

Contemporary American martial arts master


When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.

Fred Rogers

American children’s television host



It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.

D.W. Winnicott

British pediatrician



Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.

Johan Huizing

Dutch historian



The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.

Erik H. Erikson

American psychoanalyst



Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play.... We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play...it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.

Johan Huizing

Dutch historian



The child amidst his baubles is learning the action of light, motion, gravity, muscular force… Ralph Waldo Emerson

American writer



As astronauts and space travelers children puzzle over the future; as dinosaurs and princesses they unearth the past. As weather reporters and restaurant workers they make sense of reality; as monsters and gremlins they make sense of the unreal.

Gretchen Owocki

Contemporary American early childhood educator

Edited by NanceXToo
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...