In other cultures, the idea of parents getting on the floor to play with their kids is as strange as the idea of parents getting on the floor to slurp their water from a bowl.
It simply isn’t done.
Anthropologist David Lancy has studied childhood the world over, and in most of the places — other than the Utah city where he lives — kids ran around in a mixed-age group, playing, helping out, watching adults and copying their skills. But they did not expect adults to play with them.
When I was raising my kids, however, I thought that if I wasn’t psyched for another game of…whatever, I was a sad and lazy parent.
So it is with joy and relief that I give you my Q&A with David Lancy, author of The Anthropology of Childhood, which you’ll find over at Let Grow. Read about why we think we must play with our kids, and what happens when we don’t. Nothing terrible! Nothing terrible happens when we DO play with them, either. But there are some great things that can only happen when kids toddle off to play with each other.
And I know that is harder to come by in a culture where we live busy lives, far apart, with fewer kids and cousins. That’s why I suggest schools start Let Grow Play Clubs, where kids — already at the school — can play in mixed-age, device-free, unstructured freedom for a few hours at a time. Get one started at your school and everyone gets a chance to do something they love!