Friday, March 06, 2009

Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- National Institute for Play

Dr. Stuart Brown is a physician and psychiatrist who has been studying the importance of play for many years, and is the founder of The National Institute for Play. He's written a wonderful new book, entitled "Play: How it Shapes The Brain, opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul" which should be on every parent and teacher's book shelf.
Over the course of his clinical career, he interviewed thousands of people to capture their play profiles. His cataloging of their profiles demonstrated the active presence of play in the accomplishments of the very successful and also identified negative consequences that inevitably accumulate in a play-deprived life.

The National Institute for Play includes a catalog of information and research on play in humans and animals; play profiles, and more. You can find out more by going to the website by clicking here. Dr. Brown and his work has been featured in articles in the New York Times (The 3 R's, a Fourth is Crucial too- Recess) and numerous other publications. Dr. Brown founded the Institute back in 1989, and was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and lacked quantitative confirmation of factors readily observed clinically. A science and evidence-based way of understanding and suggesting how to improve play hygeine was and still is lacking. He turned to animal play research to gain insights into human play.

With the support of the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he observed animal play in the wild. He became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, and began to see play as a long evolved behavior important for the well being and survival of animals. He subsequently came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

Many of our kids, even in affluent homes, are often deprived of the free play and free time they need to develop skills in critical thinking they will need later in life. Play is fun, but it's also a very serious subject for good emotional and social development in kids, and I think it's one of the things we can often forget about when we try to help improve our kids who struggle in school. We may think extra work is the answer, but extra play might help even more.

In the first part of our interview, we talk about how play is important for kid's development; in the second part, we discuss how Grandparents and play; how important hands on learning is for kids, and how this seemingly "wasteful" activity may be where most of their most important learning comes from. I know you'll really enjoy Dr. Stuart Brown- his new book helped me think about play and how we incorporate it in our lives in a whole new way.

Click here to listen to Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- The Importance of Play

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