Let Your Child Learn and Grow Through Play

Painting by Jenny Nystrom

Painting by Jenny Nystrom

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children, Mary Reed Newland

“Now that you children have all those nice things to play with, why don’t you go play?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if they did? All those nice trucks and dolls and checkers and trikes . . . What’s the matter with children, not wanting to play?

Nothing is the matter with them. There’s simply a difference between what parents think is play and what children think is play, and if play were nothing but what parents think it is, this would be a hopelessly dull existence.

Playing is the best means of all for children to learn, because they don’t have to be coaxed to do it. It includes everything within range of their experience, and involves only one qualification: it must be fun.

It includes all the feeling pleasures, such as playing with mud, or food, or water. It includes the hearing pleasures, such as banging to make noise, or singing, or saying words over and over.

It includes the seeing pleasures, such as looking through amber bread wrappers, or watching rain on windows or ants in anthills.

It’s the thinking pleasures, such as taking all the nice toys apart and trying to put them back together, or being greedy about looking at all the books there are, and all the pictures.

It’s the smelling pleasures, such as using your mother’s cologne, or crushing mint in your fingers, or sniffing empty chocolate boxes.

It’s the basketball, baseball, jumping-on-bed pleasures and more of their kind, and the pummeling-your-brothers-within-an-inch-of-their-life pleasures.

No? Listen to how we react.  “Here, here! Stop playing with your food.”  “Now, why do you play in puddles with your shoes on?”  “Do you have to play with mud?”  “Why must all your play be so destructive?”  “See here, you boys! Stop playing so rough!”

If Adam and Eve had had Cain and Abel before the first sin, what fun they would have had. Nothing they wanted to do would have been wrong, or out of order, or a nuisance or a bother.

But it didn’t happen that way, and now, after Original Sin, we have the same problems to cope with in play as we have in everything else. We have to teach our children that the same laws of charity apply to playmates as apply, for instance, to the far-removed (and therefore easily loved) poor children they pray for nightly.

We have to show them that the same obligations of service, consideration, sharing, and respect apply in play as in home and work and school.

We have to teach them that play is prayer, and help them develop an awareness of good play, which can be lovely prayer, and bad play, which cannot be prayer at all.

Play relates to the whole child, his whole body, all its members, his senses, his imagination, his will, and in his joy after happy play or his discontent after the unhappy, it touches his soul.

“Many times God allows it to be hard to pray, simply to school us in applying our wills, to teach us that the value of prayer does not depend on the amount of emotion we can whip up. Many times the saints had trouble getting excited about prayers, but they said them, because prayers were due and their value had nothing to do with how eagerly they went about saying them.” -Mary Reed Newland

“It would be nice if the ‘work is play’ stage lasted longer than it does. Children soon discover, however, that the wary in this world shy away from work, and now begins the real struggle…” An excerpt from Mary Reed Newland’s book ‘How to Raise Good Catholic Children”.

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  • How can God will or allow evil? (pg. 11)
  • Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people? (pg. 23)
  • Why does God appear not to answer our prayers? (pg. 107)
  • What is Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence? (pg. 85) and many more…

This enriching classic will lay to rest many doubts and fears, and open the door to peace and acceptance of God’s will. TAN’s pocket-sized edition helps you to carry it wherever you go, to constantly remind yourself that God is guarding you, and He does not send you any joy too great to bear or any trial too difficult to overcome.

Setting out in a raging blizzard with nothing but an outlaw’s trunk and a heart clenched with dread,
young Barney Casey leaves the warmth of his family for the cold unknown. Will he find the courage to obey the Blessed Virgin’s command?
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