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Review: Play -The Danish Way

Iben Dissing Sandahl, one of the authors behind the international bestseller The Danish Way of Parenting, is out with a new book Play – The Danish Way. This book follows up on the wide interest in how to help children enjoy unstructured free play. It is such a great book to read here at the beginning of the summer holiday where children have what seems like endless time. It provides the readers with a great opportunity to encourage free play both for the sake of their children’s healthy and happy development and for the sanity of their parents!

Free play is so much more important to children’s development than many of us parents realize! I have to admit that before I read this book I viewed play as a way children pass their time. Just fun or maybe even waste of time compared to going to a sports class or storytime. I did not take it as seriously as I should. In fact, play is so much more than passing time. It is one of the most crucial factors in healthy childhood development. Play is children learning on their own. Coming up with new creative ideas, experimenting, learning by mistakes and thinking and acting independently. Most of their world is arranged by adults, governed by adult rules and decision making. In free play children get freedom to create their own world, however they want it. Through play with other kids they learn how to interact, not because an adult tells them how they should behave but because they experience the consequences of their actions on their own. These skills from play are so important also for how they do in school and later in life. Through free play children develop the ability to think outside the box and to take initiatives independently instead of constantly being in need of adult guidance. But most important of all – free play is a a cornerstone in parenting happy children who are emotionally, socially and physically healthy and resilient.

Unfortunately the amount of time that children spend on free outdoor play has dropped by 90% since 1970. Meanwhile, attention disorders, narcissism and even lack of physical skills have increased by a lot. Play – The Danish Way is such a great reminder of the value of children’s magical and fun universe. And the book not only reminds us to treasure children’s playtime, but also our own. Even adults can still play – it is what happens when we become so absorbed in a project that we forget about time. Just like when a child refuses to go home because they are having such a fun time playing with their friends. The same thing happens to adults every now and then when we create or do something we enjoy. Innovating, thinking and being creative is play and as a society I hope we will all keep up this ability. A playful home where parents show that they like to play or have fun is encouraging for children’s desire to play. In fact the book includes a play guide with ideas on how to facilitate your children’s desire to play and there are many things adults can do to help the play along.

I cannot encourage this book strongly enough. It provides the readers with a positive, warm and fun-loving view of the precious childhood without lecturing and preaching. Iben Dissing Sandahl truly writes with a love and passion for childhood which she passes on to her readers. Moreover, it is quick to read, well-structured and has many eyeopening and useful insights with a good balance of research and tangible examples. Play – The Danish Way is sure to become my guidebook on how to make a happy fun-filled summer with my children. More blog posts to come on my attempts to follow its fun playguide throughout the summer – so stay tuned 😉

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