I meant to post this earlier in the week–it continues some themes covered here in the Bug Blog earlier.
“Chudacoff’s recently published history of child’s play argues that for most of human history what children did when they played was roam in packs large or small, more or less unsupervised, and engage in freewheeling imaginative play….It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate.”
This unstructured, unsupervised play is also what a lot of research suggests is essential to developing an environmental ethic as a child matures.
My parents let me run around completely wild and unsupervised for the first 8 years of my life. Bless Them. Not only did I learn to amuse myself and appreciate nature, I also probably benefited my immune system by being very filthy.