Saturday, 5 January 2013

more thoughts about PLAY

As promised I have interviewed my other two children about play - and here are the results -
my children's play today - creating the scene and making a film using a storage box, plasticine, paper, sticks, string and  bendy curlers!

 Michael (8: 8months) 
What is free-play?
"You can play what you want. "
What is play?
"having fun. "
Does anyone tell you how to play?
Do you play differently now then when you did when you were younger?
Do you need adults to play?
Do you think I stop you playing too soon?
Which is best - playing with adults or playing with children?
"playing with children because its much more - because adults don't have as much fantasy"
When is it good to have an adult with?
"when things are dangerous - like when you are four years old and you are holding a knife"
Do adults limit play?
"yes - like when I want to play more wii and you stop me"

 Sophia 11:11 months 

What is free-play?
"When you play with your imagination and do stuff that you like"
What is play?
"When you play but its not entirely completely your imagination"
Does anyone tell you how to play?
Do you play differently now then when you did when you were younger?
"Yes - I have grown older and I like different things. I used to play with barbies - I don't do that now because it doesn't come to life anymore"

Do you miss playing like that?
Do you need adults to play?
"No, maybe sometimes - some games you need to have a grown up there in case its dangerous - like climbing in trees - in case you fall you need an adult to help you"
Do you think I stop you too soon?
Which is best - playing with adults or playing with children
"Playing with children - because children have better imagination - not necessarily but its most fun with other your own age - but its fun to play with children other ages too, but most fun with your own age"
When is it good to have an adult with?
"I don't know - it can be fun to have adults with sometimes"
Do adults limit play?
"Not all of them - you don't..."

It was certainly interesting interviewing them - and they did not find it so easy - especially Isabelle and Sophia - Michael was much faster at answering the questions, and not keen on elaborating, even when I probed - I assume play is something he does rather than thinks about, maybe he is still in the middle of it while the girls can now reflect upon it as their play is changing...? Michael definitely spends much more time engrossed in imaginative play than the girls (who have a love for reading - in a way reading has become their escapism in the same way that imaginative play is for Michael who is not a keen reader). For Michael school gets in the way of play - sitting at a desk and listening is not his kind of learning...

I have to admit I was a little concerned when Isabelle thought I stopped their play, but I see that Michael and Sophia do not feel that - although I am VERY happy to stop his wii playing so that he can do some "real" playing. The children have three hours a week to play wii/DS/i-pad which they fill out on a sheet of paper when they start and stop. This has stopped Michael asking to play wii all the time, and has allowed him to be creative with his play again - before he could only focus on when his next Mario session was and that he had nothing to do/play. During the summer holiday there is no wii etc at all - its all "real" play. Sometimes I find it hard to know what the right balance is between technological play and traditional play. This is the way we are doing it now - before it was just at the weekend - but we discovered nothing else could be done on the weekend without a series of temper tantrums... so we reflected and devised the current plan. So far it seems to be working... BUT I have allowed my children to become part of the statistics that David Elkind writes about - that passive play has increased from 30 minutes to 3 hours a week!

Free play is described by Play England as:
... children choosing what they want to do, how they want to do it and when to stop and try something else. Free play has no external goals set by adults and has no adult imposed curriculum. Although adults usually provide the space and resources for free play and might be involved, the child takes the lead and the adults respond to cues from the child.
The concept of choice is crucial to an understanding of play and play provision. This does not imply an absence of boundaries. It does imply that these boundaries are managed within a primary consideration of the child’s need to choose its own play.
Play is perhaps too profound and intangible a concept to neatly define in a way that brooks no argument. Neverthless, it is increasingly important for all children’s professionals to enter into a dialogue with, and between, play and early years’ practitioners, in order to develop shared understandings and terms that best describe the theoretical bases, the aims of provision and the tenets of good practice.

Its understandable that working out what play mean is not the easiest of tasks when you see how many forms of play there are:
free play
heuristic play
experimental play
imaginative play
social play
cooperative play
fantasy play
outdoor play
schematic play
symbolic play
spontaneous play
forceful play
pretend play
inclusive play
solitary play
sensory play
innovative play
exploratory play
... and this list is far from exhaustive. Maybe a challenge to write a little about each of these kinds of play during this month?...

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