Friday, 1 January 2016

Play for Peace

I am not talking about going out and using play for children/people to learn about peace... but about the fact that PLAY is so incredibely important and valuable that it should be a priority all over the world... that children are given the time to play, the time to play alone, the time to play together, with peers and across the age groups... to play in many different ways... role-play, teacher lead play, free play etc etc etc

As I learned more about listening last year I saw how the children could apply the listening skills to their play... their play became richer and deeper and even more creative... so I am not talking about a free for all sort of play... but a supported play... that takes in the child perspective AND the child's perspective. It needs both.

It needs us as teachers to support an empathic play where the children can take care of each other...

I have seen with my own group of children how at the start of the year they look to me, the adult, to fix their problems... if children argue, if a friend falls over... they froze, looked at me and waited for it to be fixed...
I took a conscious step back and let the children fix it... of course with support... helping them find the words and actions that could ease the situation, until my suppoert was no longer needed,  they had the tools to manage it all themselves.
I was always watching... if the fall was too hard, or the argument too heated then I would step in... it meant I needed to be observant ALL the time... watching their play, understanding their play and trusting their competence... and also knowing them so well that stepping in would not be stepping on their toes... of course I don't get it right all the time... its a process for me too.

The thing is their free play has needed structure for it to be free... for them to learn strategies and tools to apply to their play to enable them to play longer, more fairly and with greater equality.

Children need play... humanity needs play... and far too often play is being seen as something that is getting in the way of learning... rather than an important part of learning, an important part of development.

My post... Structure For Freedom explained my understanding of how an adult imposed structure can support children's play to be free... by giving them a safe play to play where they understand that rules are there to enable their play rather than restrict their play... in the post there are links to posts about lining up and scaffolding children's play and learning. While I value the adult role of supporting children in their play and learning I do think it requires a great deal of listening... to listen to the children... to their perspective, but also to listen to research, to experience etc to be able to guide them in a way that will enable them as the people they are... that play and learning is a part of the lifelong process and not just a temporary feeling fulfillment.

My post ... Play and Learning shares previous posts about play... something I have written about often since I first started my blog in late 2012. This post is a good way to find those posts that might interest you the most... from are children playing enoug... to does free play actually exist...

So this year is not so much a campaign to go out and heal... play as a plaster/bandaid to create peace... but PLAY as a preventative for such remedies...

could it be possible if children around the world played more... had the time, space to play more... to learn through play... for adults to support the social learning happening through play and that activities and lessons were designed to enable this play to be richer, even better socially, more creative and open for further learning and research... and the tha lessons and the play supported each other rather than being at opposite ends where learning has a higher status than play?

Could it be possible for children to collaborate more, to be open to other perspectives, to listen with respect so that barriers come down and open the world for more peaceful interactions...

Yes.. I dream big.

But I believe in play

I believe in children.

and I believe in all the people out there that view PLAY as important and are meeting each other, inspiring each other and reaching out to the world to value play as it should be.

This is the first post of many exploring PLAY again...

through play we can embrace the imagination... problem solving, creativity...

as teachers we can expose the children to new experiences... to awaken joy, to be playful... to enable play to be enriched


  1. Hi Suzanne - glad you dropped in on PlayGroundology FB. Great to meet each other through our work/play. I look forward to reading some of your posts. I see we have one mutal person that we follow - Tim from Rethinking Childhood. We brought Tim to Halifax last year and it was a great opportunity to start a public discussion around play. If you haven't run across it previously, you may enjoy some of the content on my PlayGroundology blog. Cheers from Nova Scotia in Canada's far est....

    1. yes, I have been reading your blog... and have shared it on my FB page over the years too...

      I will be in Toronto this August participating in #Rhythm of Nature 2016 - learning outdoors and risky play!! I will be presenting when I am there too.