By: Rebecca Wenstrom, Middle School Inclusion Specialist; Taryn Peacock, Second Grade Teacher; Julian Wilson, Assistant Teacher; and Tonia Vines, Arts Coordinator

What joyful childhood memory can you recall most clearly? When asked this question, one grown-up recalled long summer afternoons rigging a rope swing on which he and his neighbors swung into a creek. Another adult recalled long evenings playing capture-the-flag in the neighbors’ front yards up and down her block. Another describes playing dress-up imagination games with her siblings. When asked this question, adults reliably recall moments of freedom and discovery during extended periods of play. These experiences are exhilarating, creative, child-directed, unsupervised, and enormously fun. They are also, research tells us, hugely beneficial for brain development.