Let’s Play Together

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We met some friends in the mountains this weekend. They have two daughters, one who’s close to Sam’s age. Sam and Fiona don’t play together that often, but when they do it’s like they’ve know each other forever. They don’t focus on their differences, one a five-year-old girl and one a six-year-old boy. They just hit the ground running, literally. I don’t really know what they talk about or what they’re even playing, just that they laugh a lot. This morning they both woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep, so they whispered in their bunk beds, shared glow-in-the-dark silly putty, and made plans for ice skating and sledding.

They don’t go to the same school, and maybe that’s what makes their relationship work so well. I’ve noticed that boys and girls don’t mix that often at Sam’s school. When I pick him up in the afternoon, the boys are usually involved in some sort of playground espionage, while the girls enact their own dramas, just as interesting, but different. I wonder if Fiona and Sam would play during recess, if they went to the same school.

I’ve been thinking about their friendship, and why it seems so extraordinary, so I began searching for articles and blogs that focus on gender and childhood. I was happy to find  Superhero Princess, and Hillary Manaster’s post – “10 Reasons Girls & Boys Should Play Together.” The blog tagline is excellent: Strengthening connections between boys and girls, and laying the foundation for harmonious relationships in the future. 

I’d love to know your thoughts about encouraging friendships between girls and boys.

As a parent or a teacher, what do you do to create diverse play opportunities for your kids? Do your kids see you involved in healthy relationships/friendships with members of the ‘opposite’ sex?

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Play Together

  1. I had two boy friends in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade that I remember as good buddies. Bucky and Phillip. I also had a close girl friend, Candy. I think all the kids played together during recess without gender separation. We played marbles in the dirt in the school playground. Hmmm….
    Our family moved at the end of that school year. I still miss them. There was something authentic, creative and innocent in those early friendships that took me outside of my nuclear family.
    Good to be reminded.

  2. This is so interesting. I have three boys…no girls. They go to school and daycare with girls, but as far as I can tell, they never play with, talk to, or acknowledge the existence of the girls, unless they have to. Boys run in a pack. I was just thinking the other day that I should arrange playdates with girls, so that they can at least learn how to talk to them (especially for the sixth-grader), but I resist the idea of engineering their friendships and play life…it seems so artificial and forced.

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