A Little Playful Wisdom from John Muir

A friend mentioned John Muir at dinner yesterday, and it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from his book, “Stories of My Boyhood and Youth,” that expresses the way I feel about play:

“And surely all God’s people, however serious and savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes, all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.”

John Muir was not an early childhood educator; he was a naturalist and preservationist who spent a good portion of his life in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where, incidentally, my husband also spent much of his childhood. Muir’s thoughts on communion with nature always inspire me to return to the outdoors, but this reflection on the fundamental need for play is particularly meaningful as I think about caring for little ones. It is my suspicion that playing is our natural state and that the lessons we learn through playing are every bit as important as the kind of learning that occurs when sitting quietly at a desk.  At the very least, frequent, uninhibited, imaginative play makes the structured times of learning more tolerable.  What a joy to watch children discover the vastness of play and to rediscover it along with them!

Hope you all enjoyed the full moon this weekend! Happy October, everyone!


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