Daddy: “Did you do any learning today Buddy?”
Jack: “No. No learning. Just played.”
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Lately I’ve been feeling like our days have been becoming a little too me-directed. While I think the explorations and activities I was preparing were hands-on and engaging, they still came from my planning and my agenda.
I was starting to feel that I was placing more importance on language and math than on Jack and Sarah’s self-directed play. It didn’t take long into our homeschool kindergarten for the teacher inside me to take over.
“The value of child-initiated play can hardly be overstated….children thrive when they have significant amounts of time to pursue their own ideas through play using open-ended materials.”
“…we never want to inadvertently diminish the vital importance of sustained child-initiated play. Rather than interfering, taking over, or overwhelming them with too much instruction, the actions you choose should support children’s learning.”
And so today I watched; I watched Jack and Sarah play. They played their usual games but today I had different eyes open. I scrapped all the planned activities I had today and waited for them to show me the way forward.
I waited for simple moments for me to help them build on their play; build upon their experiences. I listened to their play and their stories for cues of how I could support them…and the cues came.
Jack wanted sticky tape but couldn’t use the dispenser himself so a short lesson there allowed him to continue his play; Sarah wanted to create a school but couldn’t find an acceptable desk so a short lesson walking around the house discussing possibilities allowed her to problem solve, make a decision and continue with her play.
And so the day unfolded. And since I had done away with my agenda, I was open to theirs. They decided what was worth learning; what was worth pursuing. And wouldn’t you know it, we still did some reading and some writing, we still did some math and some science.
“…you create an expectation and awareness that they [the children] are here to ‘get smarter’, not by reminding and instructing, but by describing and inquiring about what is unfolding.”
I learnt a humbling lesson today; one that I thought I knew but guess I forgot. I learnt to trust. To trust that Jack and Sarah will learn what they need to learn in that moment; that they will write and read and draw and explore in a way that is relevant to them.
I learnt that my role is one of gentle mentor; subtly injecting provocations to help Jack and Sarah to pursue their play further, master skills, ask questions and seek answers; supporting them in their learning experience.
And what a wonderful day we had today. No learning, just play.
I shared two short videos on Instagram today; one of Jack and Sarah working and another of Jack after he created a working circuit.
I’m @kate_aneverydaystory .
~ These are the World landmark figurines we have