Monday, August 8, 2016

Unexpected loose parts for play

I was out walking today with the very lovely Juliet Robertson from Creative Star Learning who is in town sharing her passion and expertise with educators around Australia.

We started talking loose parts, as you do.

I was reminded of a red and blue plastic slide that we had at my old preschool.  It is one you see in backyards all over the place, and I always felt that being plastic and a bit naff it was out of place in our natural setting.  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why I love what I do

Long time readers of Let the Children Play will be familiar with the big themes in my professional life:  Progressive education, loose parts for play, outdoor play - preferably in natural settings, creating environments for play and more recently respectful education and care for infants, inspired by Magda Gerber's educaring (r) approach.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Passive toys make active learners

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have long been a fan of the theory of loose parts.  

My experience at a preschool rich in loose parts showed me that children's play is enriched in ways almost too many to list when children have time, freedom and access to an array of interesting, opened ended materials both indoors and outdoors.  Loose parts are, quite simply, the essential raw ingredients for creative and imaginative play.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Be the Spark that Ignites the Flame

Emmi Pikler ignited a flame that changed the lives of the young children at Loczy, a home for children in Budapest, and continues to inspire parents and educators to this day.  

Light years ahead of  her time, Pikler understood just how important the relationship between infant and carer, the care moments, free movement, self initiated play choices and uninterrupted play time were to a child's healthy development and wellbeing.  

Source:  The Pikler Collection

Magda Gerber, mentored by Emmi Pikler, traveled to Los Angeles and carried the flame with her.  Gerber's Educaring® Approach incorporates:

"...a deep respect and appreciation of the baby as more than a helpless object, Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach encourages infants and adults to trust each other, learn to problem solve, and embrace their ability for self-discovery. When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover and inspire the best in themselves and in others."
- Resources for Infant Educarers

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Educators: Protectors of children's space

In my job I make babies cry. 

I certainly don't mean to.  I visit different centres, and sometimes this means entering the spaces of infants and young toddlers.  When I walk into a nursery, I sense a shift in the atmosphere. There is a stranger in the room.  A 5 ft 11" giant.  At the very least, my presence interrupts play and children stop what they are doing.  Sometimes they tense and go still, like Meerkats on high alert.  At the very worst, they cry.   

Imagine for a moment you are in the sanctuary of your own home, and a couple of strangers walked in and wandered around, and then left.  Imagine this happened again, and again. How would you feel?  What would this do to your stress levels?  To your feelings of safety? Could you feel ownership over a space that clearly wasn't your own?  Is this what it feels like for our youngest children?

Only about Children Cremorne

I pondered this as I sat quietly, observing last week in a nursery room, soaking in the atmosphere.  It was lovely.  The physical environment was uncluttered, and visually calming, educators sitting on the floor, children on laps or close by.  Calm and unhurried.  Nothing more important to be doing than to be together and get to know each other.  It was clear that supporting these little people, some who were very new to the centre, to slowly build that sense of trust in their surroundings and in their relationships was the priority.