Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It's child's play

I am not an arty person. Or rather I have never thought of myself as arty person.  Art wasn't something widely available outside of school art lessons. Likewise my children don't choose to be particularly creative, maybe because they didn't have 'fun creative' opportunities either.  In fact, I don't remember sensory/messy play being as widely available for toddlers when they were young, or certainly not where I lived.  So whilst C and I do puzzles; play kitchen; go to music group; swimming; and goodness knows where else, we always make time for arty stuff.

Blank canvas
At first I really struggled with C not actually 'producing' things - after all isn't that why we DO anything?  I would want C to make a collage but C would play with the glue and not touch the materials...or we would start painting and she would spend ages playing with the brush and not actually putting any paint on paper.  Arrrghhhh, all I wanted was a picture!  Finally I accepted that actually it's the process not the product and that all play is learning and should ideally be 'child led'.

As I have said before, my sister is an experienced Montessori practitioner/directress and during one of our conversations she directed me to www.brainrules.net.  I'm not one to read for ages on line so I bought the book (the baby one of course).  It's quite sciencey (as you would expect seeing as it was written by a developmental molecular biologist) but very interesting.  The bit I honed in on was about child led play.   I understood the benefits of letting children discover things for themselves; but wondered how on earth they were supposed to just know how to do things - e.g. I wouldn't have been able to google Dr John Medina, before I knew he existed and therefore who to search for.  A crap example, but I hope you get the gist.

Time for a ponytail...
Back to Dr John.  The author, Dr John Medina, agrees play should be open-ended and child led (isn't it soooo hard not to interfere and correct all the time?), but as children don't know how to unlock their potential we need to give them guidance.

Lightbulb moment.

I have been visiting American site PAHM for a while  now (they have fabulous play project ideas that my limited imagination would never think of) and I always wondered what the invitation bit was about.  Now I know.  Glad that's off my chest.

There are actually some' potentials' that you do regret unlocking..like the potential to cut off hair (dog or human - not fussy); labels; and post.  C is quite a pro now so time for me to adopt some child led (child following?) scissor survellience...


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