Our friends over at Classic Play have dubbed 2011 “The Year of Play.” And we’re joining in on the fun.

This week is a full week of PLAY. And we’ll be continuing the series through 2011.

We’re all guilty (?) of wanting to give our children the best possible foundation to become the best possible people. Intelligent. Healthy. Kind. Compassionate. Appreciative of the arts. Those are just a few of descriptive phrases that come to mind when I think of the kind of person I hope my daughter becomes.

And that’s where the panic sets in. However will she get in to college if “my baby can’t read?” (Anyone else want to blast those commercials from the sprout-o-sphere?) If she’s going to be bilingual, doesn’t she need to start Spanish classes at 6 months old? What about dance class, soccer, and painting lessons? She’ll need to start those early if she’s going to be ‘well rounded.” And of course, eventually we’ll have to fit in leadership courses and time for giving back to the community. Maybe we can schedule that in between 4:15 PM and 4:52 PM. Because that’s all she’ll have time for if she ‘needs’ all these things. And 37 minutes of working on a community service initiative will be “meaningful.” She’ll really understand the concept of giving back if she can just squeeeeeezzzeee in a little time.

Fact is, we’ve turned ourselves into a generation of paranoid schizophrenic parents. And what we really need to do is kick our kids — and ourselves — back into play.

My friends, Einstein never used flashcards.

{{Aside: we do have the Discovery Kids My First Words Touch and Feel cards. The Bug loves them – – but we use them to put together stories, not to drill.}}

From a recent New York Times’ article on the movement to restore play:

Too little playtime may seem to rank far down on the list of society’s worries, but the scientists, psychologists, educators and others who are part of the play movement say that most of the social and intellectual skills one needs to succeed in life and work are first developed through childhood play. Children learn to control their impulses through games like Simon Says, play advocates believe, and they learn to solve problems, negotiate, think creatively and work as a team when they dig together in a sandbox or build a fort with sofa cushions.

So we’re jumping on the Year of Play bandwagon. This week, we’ve got posts coming your way on our favorite local places to get your kids’ play on, throwing a sledding party, this whole thing called ‘play groups’ and ideas to spark play in your own living room. No rush to {{insert your favorite toy store here}}. You’ll have it all lying around the house.

And many thanks to Jen Cooper and the Classic Play contributors for this fabulous idea! Check out Jen’s post on making 2011 the Year of Play. Yeah. We’re pretty sure you’ll join the movement, too.

PS: You all know I’m an educational technologist. So no, I’m not about doing away with technology or depriving kids of multimedia. That is a HUGE skill that we need to learn alongside our kids. After all, they are the true digital natives. I’m just about balance. Getting to whatever zen means for you and your family.

image credit: Classic Play