Before I gave any time to learning about and exploring the power of play-I had never fully considered it’s massive potential for increasing kids’ creativity, inquiry and imagination. Since having my own child I now recognise the inherent need for children to have the full freedom to take ownership over their play. Play is serious business and kids need to be given the space and time to do it. As the pressures on schools to produce results increases and as teachers are regularly required to assess and quantify a child’s progress-opportunities for play are being squeezed to 15 minutes in the playground.

 

Forest Found Learning

During one of our recent Saturday Sessions  for 11-14year olds,  I observed the tangible desire for play amongst the group. I hadn’t expected such a need for them to run around wild and free. We had planned more tool based tasks with some games scattered in and amongst but all they wanted to do was to play Capture the Flag. We played it every week for 2 hours straight for 5 sessions. They loved the excitement, the physical movement, the competitiveness, the chase, the thrill, the camaraderie, the team work, the natural environment, the exhaustion and the chance to just be a kid. It was wonderful to watch and fascinating to consider the need for children to have freedom to be and to do and to take charge.

Forest Found Learning

Play is  a scientific process that engages a variety of cognitive and physical elements. Through play children problem-solve, experiment, take risks, create, make and work stuff out on their own. The outdoor environment is not created or planned by adults in the way the playground or the classroom is carefully designed. We have no say in how children play in it or with it. They can make the space their own play environment and delight and thrive in the fact that it can be whatever they want it to be. Our job as practitioners in those spaces is to step back, facilitate, observe and interact when invited.

I’m really excited to see the kind of play I have studied taking place in the sessions we run. We are made to play because that is how we learn and if we want our kids to learn in fresh, creative and real ways then we must LET THEM PLAY!