In my earlier post, Why Do We Keep Ignoring This Message?, I spoke of the importance of recognising play as the ‘work’ of children, as the way children of prior-to-school age learn. I mentioned a presentation which I used to give to parents where I used the Harvard College mission statement and the list of Skills for Success: What Employers Want (from Graduate Careers Australia) to list important life and learning skills identified by these two sources. In my presentation, I then demonstrated how children began the process of attaining those skills through play. In this post I want to explore this idea further by providing an example for readers.
Often adults look at children playing with toys without really looking at what they are doing or trying to understand what their play is about. Look at the photo below.
They are plastic megablocks which many parents will be familiar with (similar to Duplo). Simply looking at the picture, you might think that Immy is not particularly good at building with blocks, it certainly isn’t a very inspiring tower! That is because it isn’t a tower.
This is a family and they are driving in two blue cars. Immy has been playing with this ‘family’ for weeks now. Blocks of each colour are particular characters in the family. For example, the yellow is always Hannah (named after Immy’s favourite friend at playgroup), the green is Poppy and the red is Grandma, light blue is Daddy and so on. The ‘family’ go on excursions to the park, to the shops, in a pram and on a boat. They accompany her from the sandpit to the bath. The game is completely of Immy’s own creation and she becomes completely absorbed in the interactions between the characters, speaking for them and to them as she takes them on adventures. I find this quite simply ingenious. I love the way she has taken one resource and used it for something completely different to its intended purpose. I love the way she re-enacts her own life lessons through the interactions of these little ‘family’ members.
As an adult, I have watched and listened and interacted in this play with Immy to learn more about her thought processes. This is the way we can learn what young children are thinking, exploring and learning through their play.
What have you learnt about your children (and their thinking and learning) through their play interactions recently?