“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
What an amazing session this afternoon at #alsc22 on “True Play” presented by Carissa Christner and Holly Storck-Post from Madison Public Library. They led us on a play exploration to begin with: can you recall a favorite memory of play from your childhood? Stop and think for a moment. Did adults tell you how to play? True Play is deep and uninterrupted engagement in the activity of one’s own choice. Sounds simple doesn’t it?? And indeed, simplicity is a key factor. They reviewed the history of play at their library, from play literacy (themed type activities), playful activities in storytime (though still adult designed), and talked about the importance of play. Did you know that for young children movement (spinning, large motor skills) stimulates the vestibular system, and also strengthens eyes muscles that will be need for reading? True play also develops problem solving skills that build mental muscles. And play brings joy.
Rather than focus on a specific set of materials to encourage true play, mindset is emphasized. They recommended not starting with toys, or anything that kids and/or adults may already think there is a right — and hence — wrong way to play with. Often simplifying the materials MULTIPLIES the options for play. DO incorporate books into the play space, for example, in browsing bins. They shared ways they sought feedback from families and library users, and also sought to include staff and build support for this type of play. Staff noticed when certain items led parents to say no and sought ways to encourage them to be able to say yes. And they had to educate parents on letting the child take the lead in directing the play.
Thanks Carissa & Holly — I have so many ideas to take back and share!
Guest contributor Robin Gibson (she/her/hers) is the Youth Services Manager at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville, Ohio. She is looking forward to reconnecting and making new connections with colleagues and gathering new ideas to share with her team. She loves to travel and is excited to be able to do so again!
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
I love playing, watching others play, and remembering wonderful past playtimes. It does feel deep. I’m so glad this is getting the attention it deserves.