Giving Childhood Back to Children

More than just for fun!

More than just for fun!

Peter Gray wrote an article, “Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less“, that is making the rounds and I think it’s one that everyone should read, not just parents. I thought it was going to be about allowing kids more freedom – to run to the corner store to buy milk or to walk home from school unsupervised – but it was specifically about the importance of play.

Playtime is more than just a way to pass a few hours. Gray’s research asserts that play is essential in all mammals’ development, and the those that have the most to learn play the most. He makes great points about creativity and the fact that we have robots and computers to do many of the tasks that we used to do, so our focus now should be on solving problems and thinking towards the future.

One point I agree with (and so did Einstein) is that too much schooling can destroy your interest in a topic you once enjoyed. After completing my Computer Science degree, I didn’t want to touch a computer for years. In contrast, my husband saw himself in a similar position and chose to leave school and pursue CS on his own. Guess who still loves computers and enjoys making a living with them?

Play teaches children self-control and teamwork better than any classroom because they live the results. There are correlations between the opportunities to play and mental disorders and anxiety. I know that I’m in a healthier state of mind if I have time to play!

The most ironic part of this situation is that while US (and UK, where Gray resides) schooling becomes more rigorous, China is doing the exact opposite. They tried what we’re trying already, and it was a miserable failure (check out, “China’s 10 new and surprising school reform rules“, on the Washington Post’s website for more on this topic).

Where do you stand on the subject? Do you think school days should be longer and holidays shorter? Are we too hard on young students or not hard enough?


  1. One thing that really surprised me upon graduating from college was finding out that good interpersonal skills were more important in landing a job than GPA. While I was diligently studying, my friends were out playing, an activity I felt was frivolous. Well, their “play” ended up looking a lot more like networking when they had more resources to draw from in finding a job. Casual social interactions are really important in building life skills as well as in learning job skills!

  2. Gina, that is so true! The last three jobs I’ve gotten didn’t even ask for a resume and were a result of “casual social interactions”. When hiring, my husband pays more head to the applicant’s LinkedIn connections than their degree.

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