Start panicking! There’s talk of a National Strategy for play according to an article on the BBC news website. (Look here)
Can you imagine? The government have totally trashed education with National Strategies, heaven forbid they’d do the same with play. It’s like they want to control every little bit of children’s childhoods.
When we were home educating we let the kids play loads. It didn’t necessarily involve us although we may have provided a starting point, as much of it was inspired from the things around them; tools, utensils, materials, boxes, cartons, cloth and packaging, tables make great dens covered by a sheet. They played through exploration and discovery; with water, mud, foodstuffs, a variety of materials, basically anything we had in the house or garden. They constructed, measured, estimated, crafted, copied, role played, experimented, improvised. You don’t need expensive equipment or materials packaged as Early Learning to inspire play. Their imaginations are the best resource they could use.
These activities stimulate their brain and expands skills. Play develops their mind and body, increases understanding of their world, self motivation and intelligence and affects their academic learning later on. Play is never a waste of their time. In fact I believe it is the reason why home educated kids do so well later in life because having the opportunity to play, as well as increasing skills and intelligence, helps them understand what life is all about and how to get on with it independently. If we take control of their play away from them, as we’ve taken away all control over their learning and scared them to death through so-called health and safety, we can hardly expect them to flick a switch and know how to be independent again when Unis and employers want them to.
Let the children play, I say. But please, please, please, let the strategies come from them.
And if you are a parent who didn’t get much chance to play as a child and are short of ideas there’s plenty of inspiration from the National Trust on the article and in some of the other Home schoolers’ blogs I listed on this post here.