The Importance of Play: For Your Students and You!
Posted by MAXCases Admin on Jul 11, 2023

As we enter into the heart of the summer, it can be a good time to take a break from structured summer break activities like continuing education, home projects, and family vacations. We all know that play is extremely important for our students and our children. Young kids learn important physical and mental skills through play, and activities can help older children stay strong, healthy, and stress-free. Today, child development experts encourage parents to reserve time for free play, and our schools schedule recess and other breaks throughout the academic day during the school year.

But what about play for all of us as adults?

As our world becomes faster paced than ever with businesses and school districts focusing on doing more with less, staying ahead of the curve, and implementing so many technologies geared toward efficiency, it’s easy to leave adult play by the wayside in favor of more “important” adult pursuits. Yet, play is just as important for adults as it is for children.

Play is Good for Us … and for Our Adult Pursuits

Just as play helps our children stay mentally and physically fit, play is good for adults as well. According to a research study published in the journal of , “Findings revealed that playful individuals reported lower levels of perceived stress than their less playful counterparts, and more frequently utilized adaptive, stressor-focused coping strategies and were less likely to employ negative, avoidant, and escape-oriented strategies.” Other studies have shown that play releases endorphins, improves brain functionality, and stimulates creativity. That means it can help us retain energy, improve memory, and even stimulate brain growth.  

Activities such as organized (or impromptu) adult sports, dance classes, biking, or gardening encourage physical movement, which becomes more important as we age. Although not everyone may enjoy regular workouts or exercise, those who like physical activities as a form of play can achieve the benefits of both exercise and play.
Just about every career today carries some level of stress. In fact, many report that stress is nearly constant with one study saying that “60 percent of participants across 34 countries report that they have felt stressed ‘to the point where they felt like they could not cope or deal with things at least once in the past year’.” I’m betting that most teachers feel like that a bit more than just  once a year! Ensuring that we incorporate enough play into our lives can help us decompress from this daily stress, leading to healthier, happier lives.
Not only can adult play be beneficial for you as an individual, it can also have a rippling effect for those around you. Because play successfully boosts an overall sense of well-being, playful adults tend to attract others by helping them laugh and relax.

In the workplace, this can contribute to a positive, desirable culture, as well as encourage creativity and problem-solving, which can lead to more fulfilling careers and even bottom-line results.

An Adult Play-Book

Unfortunately, as adults, we tend to forget how to play. After all, if play is supposed to be enjoyable, it shouldn’t be something we’re trying to jam into an already packed schedule, only to generate more feelings of stress and potential failure. It’s important to find activities that you can actually look forward to, whether they are done alone, with family and friends, or even strangers. Here are some general categories and ideas to consider.

Physical Play

If you were the type of kid that lived for sports or the parent that spent evenings wrestling with your toddlers, you likely enjoy physical, rough-and-tumble activities. Many adult sports leagues, martial arts classes, and dance clubs are available for adults. Sign up with a spouse, friend or solo to find ways to play physically.

Rule-Based Play

Although many organized sports fulfill the adult desire for rule-based play, this can be applied to activities such as chess, board games, card games, and escape room activities as well. If this is appealing, start teaching your children your favorite games and make it a ritual to play regularly. Or, organize a Euchre or chess tournament for a bunch of friends after a potluck supper. Join an escape room group and meet others who love to strategize.

Creative Play

Kids love to imagine life when they are grown-up or what life would be like on another planet or in a medieval castle. For adults that enjoy imaginative play, there are a host of options from the very simple such as investing in an adult coloring book and set of pencils to joining a community theater group. Taking an art, sculpting or pottery class at your local community college could also be fun.

Building Play

Did you spend hours playing with blocks, Legos, or other building materials as a kid? Then you might have playful fun creating and building things. Consider taking up a hobby in woodworking, designing a new space in your home, or engaging in those toys and activities that you loved as a child with the kids in your life.

Whether you explore one of these ideas or find something of your own, the important thing is to recognize the value that play brings to the summer. Maybe you’ll find something so enjoyable that you keep it part of your routine when it’s time to head back to school, too.

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