Sunday Snippet: Raffi on Child's Play

“It’s through play that children make sense of things, from their own physical bodies to the web of animals and people in their lives. In a society dominated by “work,” adults sometimes trivialize play, forgetting that it inspires both imagination and creativity–what we all need to become the best we can be.

Play takes its own time; remember, it’s called “play” and not “fast forward.” Lifelong learning and emotional health begin with child’s play. Play’s the thing!”

After hearing that Lois Lilienstein of Sharon, Lois & Bram passed away late last week from a rare form of cancer, memories of singing “Skinnamarink” in elementary school can rushing back into my head. Even though it has literally been decades since I last sang that song, I still remember not only all the words, but also the accompanying motions. That is the profound power and impact that children’s music can have.

It is much the same with Raffi. Again, it has literally been decades since I last sang any of his songs, but when we borrowed one of his CDs from the library for Adalynn and “Baby Beluga” came on, I just had to sing along. We were swimming so wild, swimming so free.

How many children, both Canadian and abroad, have been touched by the creative genius of artists like Lois Lilienstein, Raffi, “Mr. Dressup” Ernie Coombs or Fred Penner? How many children have learned about the world through play? How many children now have precious memories of dancing in the park or singing in class?

Born Raffi Cavoukian to Armenian parents in Egypt, Canadian singer-songwriter Raffi truly understands the importance of play. Absolutely, learning about language, math and science is important, but we mustn’t discount the equal importance of creativity and imagination either. Allow children to explore. Indeed, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says that we need to do more to stimulate curiosity in children. That’s how they become “natural” scientists. Play can do that.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by other great minds. Albert Einstein once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” If children are held in too strictly structured of an environment, if they are not given the opportunity to play on their own time, they will never dare to think outside of the box and discover something completely novel.

And as adults, we’d be remiss to neglect the value of play as well. Sing. Dance. Play. Join a baby beluga in the deep blue sea. And above else, remember to have fun.