“As Peter Gray talks about, true play must always be voluntary, and the child must always be free to leave (Gray, 2013). But what happens when, as they grow older, their play looks more like classroom work? What if they get curious about worksheets? What if they want to challenge themselves to write down the answers to math questions? What if they want to read and follow the instructions?”
“Self directed facilitators or teachers view their role as supporting the child right here and right now with the process they are currently engaged with”
When people talk to me about mixed age play and groups these two things almost always come up. Find out what I think!
Welcome to my first blog post follow up to our new Podcast –
Dirty Playologist! I will be blogging on the ideas we talked about more in depth, talking about aspects that I want to dig deeper into or related ideas to help you put the ideas in perspective in your classroom or homeschool. I look forward to Kisha adding in her voice sometimes as well!
Our first two episodes were on play schemas and how to support them in your play. I wanted to get a little into how to allow that play in your environment. We talked a lot about the schemas and the repetition and allowing kids to explore the schemas as well as allow the learning that branches out from schemas – math concepts, social concepts science concepts etc.
As early childhood educators we need to provide materials but being in the forest there are days that they will request no materials or when they ignore materials that are provided. Yet everyday the children seek out and explore schemas to learn from. So materials are not essential for exploration of play schemas and learning that results from the play schemas.
The one thing that I see as being essential is time. Having large chunks of time to really explore, repeat and learn. I am not talking about 30-40 minutes that free time in structured schools allow for. Why is that not enough?
It can take a significant amount of time to get deep into play, anywhere from 10-30 minutes. How long depends on 3 factors.
1. Familiarity of a place – if a place is new or different it will take longer to get deep into play. The more familiar a place is, when they know where the materials are, where they remember a game, exploration or play scenario they have set up that they want to revisit the faster they will get into deep play.
2. Familiarity of others – in much the same a way place is a factor other children are a factor as well. Trying to negotiate with a child for the second or third time takes a lot more effort and concentration than negotiating with a child after knowing them for a year. Also familiar games and roles lessen the amount of set up time so they can get deeper in the play faster.
3. Familiarity of yes environments – this means yes environments for exploration, for choices and for play with almost no rules or constraints. A child who is not used to having environment where they are in control of their play may check in with adults or other children to make sure their decisions are ok. This can be all the way from stopping to ask “can I do this?” to even just stopping their play to look at an adult. But the result is the same the play is stopped, interrupted and must begin again. Every new beginning means it takes longer to get back into the play.
The longer kids are allowed to play the better and faster they get at getting deeper into play. Kids who are routinely given 30-40 minutes spend all of, or almost all of their time trying to get deep into learning play without ever really reaching it. To really reach that deep learning play children must be given large chucks of time of more than an hour to play with the schemas, to play with the concepts the schemas naturally transition to and to just be able to have fun.
If you would like to listen to the podcast you can listen to the first one
Or the second one
Or download from iTunes – just search dirty playologists!
For information on Schemas click here
This Last Month at Forest Kindergarten
January brought the kids exploring their forest covered in snow. Art seemed to be the theme – either creating art or finding it in nature (and eating it!). They enjoyed the art captured in icicles and the tracks left by animals. They comparing tracks to figure out what had been there and tried to figure out where they went and had come from. They also had to figured out how to investigate differently in the winter when they wanted to know which way the water was flowing without getting wet (they settled on throwing something in to watch which way it floated).
This last month at forest Kindergarten the kids met
114 Kindergarten goals
And showed all 15 play levels (Parten, Smilanskyand Smith & Pellegrini)and 7 Play Schemas
We are pleased to announce Barbara Sheridan will be a facilitating two workshops at the COEO conference.
The workshops will take place at the annual Outdoor Educator Conference in September.
The first is a workshop where attendees can learn about risk and how to apply positive risk to children under 7.
The second workshop Barbara is presenting with Gail Molenaar, an experienced outdoor educator presenter and Kindergarten Teacher with Simcoe County District School Board, on Forest Kindergartens. They will be presenting on some history, do’s and don’ts and Barbara will present specifically on our Forest Kindergarten Model at Barrie Forest Kindergarten.
The Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO) is a non profit organisation dedicated to providing safe and high quality outdoor experiences, workshops, conferences and is a professional body for outdoor educators in Ontario.
We have one rare full time and one rare part time spot for our fall session. Message or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details!
This last week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten….
We had such fun building bridges, exploring the creek, playing in our natural sandbox -covering ourselves, each other and building magical element piles. Climbing, running and splashing. Just don’t tell the kids they are learning!
We met 106 Kindergarten Goals of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum and all 15 levels of play (Parten, Smilansky and Smith & Pellegrini)
This Last month at Barrie Forest Kindergarten….
It has been a busy month with a new session starting. New faces, new ideas and new beginnings. The children are constructing a new shelter, making pulleys and traps with the ropes, playing in the mud during the rain. Learning about tent caterpillars, plantain, poison ivy and so much more!