Let the children play
We were lucky enough to be invited to run our workshop "Developing Strengths in Children" as part of the State School Teachers Union of Western Australia. It was great spending the day with our early years educators who are passionate about play and committed to ensuring we dont let play in our classrooms go the way of the Dinosaurs.
Marc Armitage, the key note speakere presented a very thought provoking talk.
Play is as natural as breathing and every animal on the planet does it.
Playing is the way children organise their world - its the way they control and make sense of the world.
Playing is not learning it is everything - wellbeing, health
Playing should have no outcome and to paraphrase Marc "what people do is more important that the reason why they do it"
In essence, children dont decide to play - it is in their nature, it is their natural state of being. Stopping them playing is like like putting a straight jacket on them.
So it is critical that if we want children to thrive and flourish we need to give them opportunities to play. He observes that "children are perfectly capable of playing independantly from adults."
Our challenge is to provide opportunity to just play with no purpose, no agenda. With our increased focus on academic focus many experts and parents are asking what is the cost? Certainly play, art and numerous creative activities being pushed out of schools because of this focus. I know a lot of people send their children to our afterschool classes because they recognise the value of creativity in a child's development.
Marc's presentation has certainly got me thinking about how I can provide more unstructured play and creative opportunities in my childrens classes.