From Farm House to Beach House and the Importance of Play
Home Exchange #2
After a one night side-trip to beautiful San Sebastian, Spain, we’ve now moved from a simple life in our country home in the Pays Basque to our second home exchange on the island of Oléron, on the West coast of France. As shown in the photographs, this old and traditional French house has beautiful ocean and beach views. Unfortunately the weather has changed and so far we are having very mixed weather – wind, rain, and sometimes the warm sun breaks through the clouds. However, we’ve still been able to rent bikes and bike along trails that took us from village to village and from beach to beach. Our 8 year old daughter took a surfing lesson while our 5 year old son ran up and down the beach for an hour and a half pretending to ride a motorbike or be an airplane as he followed the tracks in the sand.
Imaginative Play in the Rain!
Today it has rained for most of the day, but we still had a beach day. The children spent hours digging holes that became their “homes” and then made a tunnel that connected them both. They each had an umbrella as a “roof” which also kept them warm and dry as they dug away underneath!
The Importance of Play
The importance of free play is well-known, but so often this part of childhood is compromised for more structured activities such as extra-curricular sports and fine arts. The pressure to compete, succeed and keep up with peers takes over. To be reminded of the importance of free, creative play, I highly recommend reading this article: The Serious Need for Play by Melinda Wenner (scroll to p.2 on the attached link). She quotes scientific research, psychiatrists and psychologists who stress that “Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.” When children are engaging in free play, they experience living in the moment, challenge their developing brains, work through anxiety and stress, problem solve, encourage creativity and flexibility and build social skills. Sergio M. Pellis, a behavioural neuroscientist, states that the children who have had less play experiences will be more likely to have difficulties in life dealing with unpredictable situations.
“Curiosity, imagination and creativity are like muscles: if you don’t use them, you lose them.” – David Elkind (Child Development Psychologist at Tufts University) and author of The Hurried Child, The Power of Play, and many other well-known books.
Hope you’re having a playful summer,
Curiosity and Play at La Grande Plage (The “Big Beach”) of Oléron
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