Published:  12:07 AM, 25 May 2018

The power of play

The power of play

I remember as a child I would go out with my siblings and friends every evening to the playground or the street in front of my house to play until the prayer for Magrib was called.

That was our queue to go home and study. But those hours of unsupervised, unadulterated play times is most probably one of the greatest memories of my childhood that I treasure the most. However today it saddens me a great deal to see that our children are being deprived of the benefits of play.

The importance of play has been recognized by researchers from various fields. Anthropologists say, that back from the primitive era the children have acquired life skills and the tools of survival through play. According to psychologists play is one of the most important factors in a child's cognitive development.

It helps them develop their leadership skills and boosts confidence. Not only that, it also equips them to deal with anxiety and depression.

Sadly children in our society are facing a play deficit and the problem will keep on growing for future generations. Even as an educationist I feel that children learn social behavior through play. Even though play has such an important role in the development of an individual, we are depriving the children of it.

As parents we definitely want what is best for our children. We want them to be nearly perfect human beings who are successful in life. But do we as parents give them the space required to be successful? Do we equip them well enough for them to climb the ladder of success?

Majority of the parents, who allow their child to play, supervise them to a point where the child is unable to make decisions on their own. We cushion the play grounds for them and watch them like hawks.  As a result we are creating frustrated, dependent individuals who do not develop their own coping skills.

Majority of the parents these days make it a point to cut out a child's play time and replace it with studies. Our kids these days spend so much time running to and fro from schools to coaching centers that their play time is eventually compromised. However, I don't think it's only the parent's fault.

To some extent the educational institutes are to be blamed too. They do not emphasize enough on playing games in the development of the student's cognitive skills, intelligence and confidence. They keep on piling homework and assignments on the student without realizing the simple fact that a child learns only when he is happy.

Most of us live under the delusion that cutting off play time is no big deal. What we do not understand is that the as a result we have an entire nation of children who are frustrated and dependent which is a huge driving factor towards them leaning towards terrorism and other harmful pursuits.

Surprisingly these days, there are children who spend an average of seven hours a day in front of media devices which has a negative impact on their physical, intellectual, social and emotional health development. Without physical exercise a child cannot learn rational skills and cannot assess risk.

They suffer from depression and there is a definite rise in narcissism in our youngsters. Under the pressure of achieving stellar grades they are slowly loosing themselves.

Nowadays the suicide rate for youngsters is increasing. We take their childhood away when we take away their play time and substitute it with unhealthy competition of doing well in the exams. But what is the point of all this? I find no value in the education that makes an individual want to give up on life.

I will not say that we are not doing anything about the situation. To my delight, recently there was a rally in Uttara where the protesters asked the government to return the play grounds. Without the state's help it will be impossible for us to bring the revolution in play.

It is the government's job to provide the children with playgrounds and ensure their safety. They must regulate the pressure of studies that our children take on a daily basis.

It is their duty to make sure that each apartment complex has sufficient space for the children to play. But most importantly they must provide playgrounds for the children. They have to provide us with this fundamental entity.

They are youngsters. They need to channel their excess energy and it's better that they do it through play. I would like to request the government to return the playgrounds to the children so that they can play freely. If needed, we can sometimes close off our roads to let the children play because we need to understand the dangers of creating concrete souls in this concrete city.

I don't think I can emphasize enough on the power of interactive play. It empowers children, helps them develop as healthy individuals and I am delighted that some institutions have already started to fight for this cause.

It is an excellent cause, worth fighting for. Let us all work together to make the world a better place for our children. Finally it is my heartfelt plea to the parents, the teachers and the media that you teach the children the value of bravery and courage and most of all understand the power of play.


The writer is Chairperson of
Siddiqui's International School & Treasurer of Bangladesh English
Medium School Forum.

----Riffat Ahmed

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