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Hello! This is Joyce Hemphill and I will be a regular guest blogger for Madison Children’s Museum. Since 2001, I have been an active part of the museum’s community of supporters — when I started volunteering in the books department for the American Girl Benefit Sale. Then in 2014, I began offering make-n-take activities for families as they waited their turn to enter the sale area. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to have yet another way to support and promote this museum by contributing to their blog. After all, I truly feel this museum is one of the best in the country.
So who am I? Many of my colleagues refer to me as the “Queen of Play.” I think of myself as a play advocate – someone who promotes the value of play. Simply put, I am passionate about play. And I want others to be equally enthusiastic about play.
My background in and expertise on play comes from two sides — my personal side as the parent of two sons, now grown, and the professional side as a professor of child development. The mom side has over 26 years of hands-on experience watching my sons. I was fascinated by the ways they learned about their world and gained an understanding of who they were through their various adventures in play.
The professional side of me holds a doctorate in developmental psychology and almost 30 years of college classroom experience teaching infant and child development as well as cognition and learning. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed and taught a course on the Importance of Play in Child Development. The course included a service learning component, where my students and I offered a “PlayDay,” a community play event. The Madison Children’s Museum supported the PlayDay by providing boxes for the “Construction Junction” activity.
The museum also provided t-shirts for my students and me (which I am wearing in the photo above).
After retiring from UW in the spring of 2012, I published a book, The Power of Playful Learning: The Green Edition, and began writing monthly “Playing from Scratch” columns for national and local organizations. In addition, I started giving workshops for teachers, parents, families, youth groups, and care providers on ways to create playful learning activities. These hands-on experiences have been complemented by my continued involvement with the U.S. Play Coalition, the International Play Association, the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, The Association for the Study of Play, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
In the coming months I will share my thoughts on the different types of play, the various benefits of play, and the way play changes as a child grows and develops. Included will be tips, suggestions and helpful information for parents and care providers. I also hope to increase my understanding of play from your questions and your insights into your child’s play behaviors. So until next time, I leave you with a quote from American poet and essayist Diane Ackerman, who said, “Play is our brain’s favorite way to learn.”
YiP! (Yours in Play)