Is there such a thing as too much play?

The debate about how much play is enough  is one carried out in the popular press, where experts and non-experts alike weigh in. Writing for the New York Times Magazine, Melanie Thernstrom reflects on the question from a personal point of view when her daughter is invited to the home of a friend from preschool, whose father has made a project out of being a free range, non-helicopter parent. Continue reading “Is there such a thing as too much play?”

Mothers & Infants

mother-and-infant
Image by Bob Whitehead

This beautiful family photograph, posted on Flickr by photographer Bob Whitehead, offers an idealized look at the mother/infant relationship. Composed such that the mother and infant comprise the entire field, the image emphasizes the importance, in our culture, of motherly love. The emotional bond between this mother/daughter pair is emblematized in the “eskimo kiss,” noses touching and in the open mouth smiles of both members of the dyad. Continue reading “Mothers & Infants”

Play, Identity, & Mental Health

Can we become who we are without play or is play is essential for the formation and development of human identity?  I am particularly interested in how play opens up a space for creativity, a space in which we can potentially transform our identities.  If we create ourselves, and play nurtures creativity, how might our identities emerge from a self-directed engagement with play? Continue reading “Play, Identity, & Mental Health”

Play v. Learning: Are they really so separate?

In my last blog post, I noted that we seem to have conflicted ideas about what constitutes good and bad sorts of play and also what the importance of play really is. Some concern about play seems to revolve around an assumption that playing takes time away from work and learning; if we allow children too much time for play, therefore, their learning will be compromised. On the other hand, some play researchers argue that learning is actually enhanced by play, both directly and indirectly. Even this perspective, however, seems to ignore (or lack understanding of) the critical role psychoanalysts believe play has in the very formation of identity. Continue reading “Play v. Learning: Are they really so separate?”