Thursday, February 28, 2008

More on creative play

If you followed last Thursday’s link to the NPR story on creative play (how it’s eroding in our society and how it’s key to building kids’ abilities to self-regulate), there was a sequel to it on today’s Morning Edition that you can listen to here. It focuses on an early childhood program called Tools of the Mind that focuses on self-regulated learning. I’m still deciding whether or not I find the whole notion of filling out paperwork before engaging in creative play spooky or not. But maybe it has gotten to the point where some children have been so untrained in creative play that they need to get some real scaffolding in order to learn how to do it productively? I definitely like the notion of working on play -- or regarding play as work -- as a key piece of a pre-school or kindergarten program. There’s also an interesting little online question-and-answer session at the site between listeners and experts on cultivating creative play in children at home and in school. It includes a plug for Vivian Paley, an early childhood teacher and author whose work I admire.


shannon said...

I'm so glad society's figuring out what exactly is really wrong with just watching tv and following directions. . . . I found this report right on and can see immediate calming (as in I'm in control, no need to throw a tantrum) results when my kids play any kind of make believe.
Nora's school also has what they call center time - there's a home center, barber shop, art center, book center. They don't fill out forms but they have this time dedicated to free-thought play.
I'd be scared of the forms. Planning play sounds like an adult kind of worry. Planning should also be a skill naturally developed, not coerced or coaxed.
SO glad the ADD diagnosis has another reason to rethink medication - maybe a little make believe is all some of those kids need?
Oh- Nora just checked out a book illustrated by Barbara Cooney (of Miss Rumphius fame) called Roxaboxen, that took me back to my own old school make believe days. Check it out.

Liz said...

I agree that the paperwork part seems kind of "spooky", but that could be because we are not as off-base as some parents when it comes to encouraging creative play in our children. I think there are maybe some kids/parents who would benefit from the structure of the record keeping.
I work for a swingset company (and am a mom) so I am big on giving my child a tool and letting her make it fun. Those tools can be some dishes (play restaurant or kitchen), some handheld daddy tools (to "fix" things), or a swingset (which often becomes a castle or pirate ship). When we give them the opportunity, kids will use their imaginations and play for hours.
At CedarWorks we custom build giant imagination tools for exactly this kind of creative play. We remember what it was like, as kids, to rush out of the house after breakfast and to have to be called in every night when the sun started to go down. We want the same memories for our kids as well
Anyways, I just wanted to say- great post! Sometime when you get a chance, check out our play tools and for fun you can custom design your own on the website.
Liz R.