Friday, March 1, 2024

Play, Play, and More Play

My word for the year is PLAY.  The opposite of toil.  And why not? 

17 years ago, at my current school, I wrote my Teaching Philosophy to articulate the direction that I was headed as a kindergarten teacher.

“I believe in the power of play (think of anyone you know who has lost their passion for life and they’ve probably forgotten how to play.)

I believe in learning through wonder, exploration, and discovery (think of anyone you know who is a lifelong learner and they’re probably driven by wonder, exploration, and discovery rather than thinking of learning as a task that must be completed.)”

My commitment to play has become even more entrenched.  I’m not sure what my life would have been like had I not found my way to a career surrounded by 5-year-olds and a life of visual art and writing for children.  Play is powerful. My own daughter went to a school until she was 12 in LA committed to play, Play Mountain Place.  I carry the lessons of our experience there as a parent into my classroom every day.

I design writing, reading, math, science, and social studies invitations to deepen the play and find relationships between scholastic skills.  

Writing is a tool to express oneself.  This is the reason to learn to write.  Our week is designed with many different projects anchored in play, all leading to the goal of writing.  Story crafting in the Wildlands (an acre of outdoor learning on campus), the classroom, or the play yard is designed to end in writing.  Making inventions at the Maker Table is designed to lead to writing about the invention. Consistent writing leads to more writing.  Writing makes stronger readers. All of this steeped in play.

In my own writing, play drives my work.  It is the joyful adventure of following an idea without fully knowing where I’ll land.  It is playfully following the twists and turns. It is the journey of delight that brings me back to the computer (or notebook) again and again.  Creativity anchored in play is like a drug. If it were toil, I doubt I would be compelled to return over and over.  It is play that drives me. Play that beckons me back. Play that keeps it fresh, alive, and youthful. 


Linda Mitchell said...

Amen and amen! I'm observing older students in a middle school show how much they still need play (without electronics). Sand, making valentines, blocks are all popular with these kids who would really like us to see them as mini-adults. I love the idea of writing from maker stations!

Shaunda said...

what a wonderful approach to your work in guiding children to be lifelong learners. thanks for sharing!