I’ve just always been amazed as I watch my children, and now 7 grandchildren, grow, learn, become themselves. The grands range now from 15 months (my agency partner and daughter Christy’s baby girl Billie) to my elder son Morgan’s 15 year old twin boys, Christopher and Riley, now in High School. (WHAAAAT!?) In between is their brother Coady, 7, and my other son Jeremy’s 8 year old daughter Ruby and sons, George (7) and Harrison ( 3 1/2). Lots to observe! And what I’ve noticed is HOW they learn … not only at the beginning, but into adolescence. They learn from play… and the practice, practice, practice that comes naturally with play.
Formal education is important and valuable of course, but it seems more and more it leaves little time for outside and free play. Unstructured time, or play, is the cornerstone of childhood. That ability is important all through our lives as we change, grow and attempt new things. Play keeps us learning, adaptable, engaged and excited about life.
I often encourage artists who are feeling frustrated, stiff or tired, to take up a new medium and just play with it. The end result isn’t important, it’s the process to cherish. Or go outside to a park and sit sketching kids playing without really looking at the pencil lines. That becomes the artists ‘play’. With practice and more play it will be impossible to stay stiff and frustrated. Like little Billie who is just learning to walk without holding on, we grow stronger and braver and happier as we learn by playing. Maybe we take spills, but we also laugh with the glee of a Gold Medalist at the Olympics! Got to run – PLAY TIME!