In Jo's Blog

“If you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”

~ Dr Seuss

One of the questions we are so often asked at Latika Vihar and Karuna Vihar is “Don’t you ever teach the children? All they seem to do is to play.”

It’s so hard to convince parents that when they play, children are learning all they need to know, that their brains are hard-wired for this; that for kids, play is work and that they actually need to do it to grow and flourish. It’s even harder to make a case for playing just for its own sake. The idea that play could be good only because it’s fun (with no other redeeming features!) is too much of a stretch for this generation’s ambitious, striving, anxious parents.

My friend Marcie told me once about a poem by Anita Wadley on the importance of play. I loved the idea, but I wasn’t wild about the way it was written. So I did my own version below and added photos to make it even more fun. Here’s a link to the original version.

Boy holding blocks, contemplating a dolls' house
Building castles out of blocks
I dream of shape and form
I wonder about balance
And how a house is born.
I stack the blocks so carefully
I keep myself quite still
I’m learning how each piece behaves
And how a space is filled.
I’m going to be an architect.
And you think I’m just playing?
 Little girl wearing a sari
Mama’s sari fits me fine
I stand up tall and straight
I pack my briefcase and my lunch
And kiss the kids – I’m late!
I know they want to tag along
But Mama has to run
I’m off to court to try a case
I’ll be back when I’m done.
I’m going to be a lawyer.
And you think I’m just playing? 
Child at an easel showing another child his painting
This picture that I’m working on
Was going to be a tree
But on the way, another thought
Seemed just as good to me –
A tree of stars, each branch alight
Demanded to be drawn –
The vision from inside my heart
Appeared here on its own.
I’m going to be an artist.
And you think I’m just playing?
Child gazing at nesting Santa dolls
My students sit in tidy rows
And wait for me to speak.
Well, three are dolls, and one’s a cat
Who thinks I’m speaking Greek.
He won’t sit still or do his work
He doesn’t like to read –
For him I’ve got an IEP:
He’s got ADHD.
I’m going to be a teacher.
And you think I’m just playing?
Child fitting a puzzle-piece into a jigsaw board
I’m busy with this puzzle
I have to fit this piece
The one that seems to have no home
No matter how I squeeze.
It seems some rules are absolute
Like square pegs and round holes
I’m learning how to work it out
I’m focused on my goals.
I’m going to be a problem-solver.
And you think I’m just playing?
Small girl looking bemused
Ask me what I did today –
The answer’s always “Played.”
At school, at home and on the bus –
My mind’s just built that way.
For I’m a child and play’s my job
It’s what I’m meant to do –
It’s how I learn about the world
And grow to be like you!
I’m going to be a grownup.
And you think I’m just playing?
  • Shobhit Sharma

    Such a wonderful read, And the photos… so apt, they compliment the idea behind the poem so well. This is magnificent Jo!

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