During the process, she and I realized that some wild flowers were staining our paper (rubbing flowers) and maybe making our floss different colour. If I had provided more materials or stopped the process of rubbing the flowers on the paper (where she drew a list), we would have missed the opportunity to build on her learning in the natural context of our game. As parents and educators, hHow do we support the child’s natural learning process? How do we, as adults, practice actively listening and engaging in the world of the child’s free play? Free play refers to open play that is led by the child.
In my opinion and in practice there is no such thing as a perfect classroom because our best learning environment is the natural one. How can we mimic this indoor learning? Less is more. Promote imagination (which means letting the mind do the work).
Include learners and the team as you think about indoor or outdoor spaces. Think about how the spaces encourage free play, arouse curiosity, assess risks, and create a connection with the land. Often it is not a question of what we need to add to the environment, but what we possibly eliminate. This allows learners to focus deeply on the materials and the environment that surrounds them and to be creative with open materials in their play.
When we provide material to represent every single part of a children’s game, we erase the ability for their imagination to create it. My example is “dramatic space” – do children need all plastic plates and food? Do we need to add 50 different costumes? Instead, use blocks for building a house or a car, fabrics for dressing or setting the table, use loose pieces as a dinner or garden party. We are looking for a material that can or can be (at least) 20 different things. When the game is interrupted to clean up (we take away valuable experience and commitment – including focus). If tidying up in the classroom takes 10 minutes or more, I personally use that as an indicator that there is too much in the room. This also applies to my home!
When we begin to transform our thinking to create more holistic and natural play opportunities, we move away from learning Centers and towards rooms. Open materials are meant to be played with (not just for building on the block center – but maybe to build a table for their fake dinner party).
Have a nice rest of the week! I hope you enjoy the sunshine for sure!
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