February is Raising Nerd’s “Importance of Play” Month
As We Celebrate The Benefits of Play For Nerds Young And Old
Some of my most vivid memories as a kid involved the fantastic games I played. And I’m not talking about the 1,374 one-on-one games of Sorry! I endured with my big sis, or the pickup games of tackle football I played in my buddy Chris’s side yard. I mean the games where my friends and I made the games and rules up as we went along.
Besides baseball, here are a few of my favorite childhood pastimes that helped shaped me:
- Exploring the neighborhood creek and pretending to be adventurers traveling back to prehistoric times
- Role playing as a news reporter and taping my own newscasts using the used, reel-to-reel recorder I got for Christmas
- Creating one-act plays and comedy skits to perform for my grandmother and great grandmother, and drawing inspiration from my vast collection of Mad Magazine (I loved Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy)
- Roving the dark labyrinths of a Dungeons & Dragons quest conjured by my next door neighbor Eddie. Building characters and adding improvised details to the D&D framework was probably the most fun; and, of course
- LEGO Space sets and their millions of tinkering and storytelling possibilities.
Back in the day, we didn’t have the luxury of “screen time,” and I’m thankful to have been forced to hunt for and mostly invent my fun with imagination. Play was important to me as my escape, my solace, and my teacher. It made me the writer (and, honestly, the dad) I am today.
Interestingly enough, research overwhelmingly supports this concept of the importance of play for kids. Play, particularly when it gets them outside and in touch with nature, benefits kids in myriad ways, including:
- Boosting cognitive development
- Improving social skills, mental health and emotional well-being
- Enhances classroom performance, problem-solving ability, and happiness.
Open-ended play, where kids are free to explore and use their imaginations to invent and take the activity or toy in whatever direction they like, is perhaps the most important kind. It nurtures children’s natural curiosity, gives them the freedom to learn through failing, and spurs them to continuously ask “What if…?” Play fuels innovation, creativity, and, through little successes, builds kids’ confidence.
There’s no denying it. Play matters. There’s a true importance of play.
Play inspires kids – and adults – to follow their passions so that, one day, they might pursue a career that not only fulfills them, but also makes a positive impact on the world. That’s why we’ve dubbed February “Importance of Play” month.
To help us highlight the importance of play and how it can inspire kids to greatness, we’ve again reached out to a diverse group of creative problem-solvers to gain some insight about how play influenced them in their childhood and professional lives. After getting their feedback, one thing was clear. Although we may not engage in play as often as we did growing up, the importance of play doesn’t subside with age.
We hope you enjoy our Importance of Play theme and always remember that you and your Nerds should always make time to play. Nerd on!