Play is one of the most important components for individuals across a lifespan. In childhood, research shows that play promotes the development of social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills.
For an activity to be considered play, it must be enjoyable, voluntary, intrinsically motivating, and involve active engagement. Additionally, there are many types of play and each type contributes to an individual’s acquisition of certain qualities and skills. For example, “physical, locomotor, or rough-and-tumble play,” which progresses from pat-a-cake games as an infant to tag on a playground as an adolescent, promotes motor skills, cooperation, risk-taking, and negotiation.
At TCP, we strive to create an environment in which participants feel empowered to engage in all types of play. At times, staff engage in scaffolding to expand or enrich a participant’s play. In other moments, however, participant-led play will occur in a spontaneous manner, during which joyful discoveries and new connections are formed independently.
One such instance was on a TCP Hike Day this semester. After lunch, each participant in our hike group began independently engaging in playful activities. One participant spent time swinging, another ran laps around the playground, and two others played a robust game of tag. By the end of the afternoon, our group was tired, dirty, and content.
Whether staff are directly involved or indirectly create a space for participants to play, TCP is committed to creating an environment where individuals grow at their own pace. From sessions on campus to outdoor playgrounds, we believe that the power of play is vital in supporting participants to cultivate rich internal and external lives.
– Betsy Bull, Associate Counselor