Where Imagination Outshines Memorization

Toddlers to Tweens: Relearning How to Play


Havely Taylor knows that her two children do not play the way she did when she was growing up.

When Ms. Taylor was a girl, in a leafy suburb ofBirmingham, Ala., she climbed trees, played imaginary games with her friends, and transformed a hammock into a storm-tossed sea vessel. She even whittled bows and arrows from downed branches around the yard and had “wars” with friends – something she admits she’d probably freak out about if her children did it today.

“I mean, you could put an eye out like that,” she says with a laugh.

Her children – Ava, age 12, and Henry, 8 – have had a different experience. They live in Baltimore, where Taylor works as an art teacher. Between school, homework, violin lessons, ice-skating, theater, and play dates, there is little time for the sort of freestyle play Taylor remembers. Besides, Taylor says, they live in the city, with a postage stamp of a backyard and the ever-present threat of urban danger.

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