The title of this post gives away my intentions and my ultimate message, and it absolutely is a simple one. Play, for me, this journey into play has been a gift. A gift for me, and ultimately one that truly has benefited all.
It is sad in one way, that something that should be such a right for children, took me such a long time to come to, and is still something that so many children around the country and the world for that fact, are being deprived of, sadly in the name of 'learning.'
But why is it such a gift?
Well that is quite hard to explain, but very basically, it is a gift because it places the power of dynamic, real learning back in the hands of those that should hold it, the children. Not only that, it gifts us with the ability to truly see children, their urges, their interests, their true selves. It allows us to really see them, to tune into their development, to see how their play changes and expands over time, to see how they are able to challenge themselves and take risks. We get the gift of really knowing and understanding them, and in turn, being able to focus in on what it is that specific child needs in that moment.
We now truly cherish learning...what better gift could there be?
Not convinced...I just have one little gem to share...just one, because we will be here forever if you let me get started.
We had a lovely child start in our class this term...they have previously been to school, and come to us with a certain view of what school was. You could almost see the protective armour that they had wrapped themselves up in. Behaviour and friendships were challenging and there was no way in heck that they were about to show us what they were capable of.
Coming into the play-based environment was like stepping into an environment that was too good to be true, in fact I think they assumed we were tricking them, telling them they could play and explore their interests. But the beauty of play, is there is no hurry, no time frame to work to, no hoops to leap through, so they had plenty of time to just be.
It has taken a few weeks, but a different child has appeared. A child that engages with others, takes risks in their learning, opens up, explores, shares their interests and gets fully involves, has learned about kindness, cooperation and friendship. They feel safe, they feel valued and best of all, the gift of play has given them the freedom to be who they are, and the ability to take learning into their own hands.
Talk about light up!
Might this child have been misunderstood and anxious in a normal classroom environment, yes I have no doubt. Arn't we lucky that is no longer something we will need to worry about.
We don't need tricks or sticker charts to turn children onto learning, we don't need gadgets or gimmicks, we don't need over priced programmes, we just need the gift of play.
Best of all, it is just as much a gift for us, as it is for the children. Play is a gift that costs nothing, but is absolutely priceless.