And you were right. They’re just playing. Because it is within their play that all of the worlds are explored, all of the fears are banished and all of their needs are communicated.
It is in their play that they learn to negotiate, the importance of compromise and the impossibility of always getting their own way. Through play they acquire empathy for others, the right to walk away from a game, the autonomy to say when things have gone too far and the protection of ‘fantasy’ to allow them to talk about the truth.
You say you want your children to ‘learn’ something and not just waste their days playing? How about learning about forgiveness, kindness, frailty, openness, humour, challenge and resilience? How about instead of worrying about the curriculum we make sure that the children we have been entrusted to nurture will grow to be adults who are willing to nurture others?
Human beings were designed to play their way into adulthood and it is through regular, uninhibited opportunities to play, from their earliest days right up until the moment they put their play aside for something else of their own accord, that they should be free to learn and grow.
You say ‘they’re just playing’. You’re right. Just playing is enough.