Psychology Professor Robyn Holmes, Ph.D., was one of several psychologists and play researchers interviewed for an American Psychological Association piece on the importance of play for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the article, “The serious business of play,” author Rebecca Clay explored the value of unstructured play for children as they cope with social distancing, changes in their normal routines, and other stressors related to COVID-19. Clay consulted numerous specialists, including Holmes, for suggestions on how caregivers might engage their children during these socially isolating times.
“Play does indeed help us cope with our life’s stressors and the social distancing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic provides an incredibly opportune time to encourage play,” Holmes said.
Holmes offered commentary on incorporating playfulness into everyday tasks like cooking dinner or planting a garden, as these activities can teach children important skills like math and collaboration and will also foster a sense of contribution to the household, according to the article. Holmes also suggested that caregivers encourage children to get creative–like adding food coloring to food, making pancakes into different shapes, or letting children use a family garden as their own pretend farm–to encourage playfulness.
The article explored several other areas of unstructured play, including: encouraging caregiver-child play interactions, allowing children to take control over their play, encouraging pretend activities, integrating technology through safe interactive experiences, and encouraging outdoor physical play.
Holmes received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University and is a specialist in children’s play and ethnographic methods. Her research and teaching interests are interdisciplinary and include the connection between play and culture, play, language, and creativity, children’s folklore, and outdoor play.