As I have been contemplating what our homeschool should look this year, I’ve been thinking about how to include more playful learning experiences and spaces in our day. The person who introduced me to this concept was Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning. She recently published Playful Learning: Developing Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder and was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about Playful Learning. This is part 1 of 2 — be sure to check back tomorrow for a giveaway tied in with Playful Learning. 🙂
1. What is Playful Learning?
Playful Learning is the magic that takes place when we meld a child’s natural curiosity about the world with thoughtfully prepared environments and experiences. Through guided experiences that are introduced as children’s interests arise, parents and teachers can help to nurture the natural sense of joy and wonder that comes from having good questions and learning how to effectively seek out and find the answers. When this takes place, we no longer need to delineate between work and play. To children the work feels like play and to parents and teachers they can witness firsthand that a child’s play leads to valuable work and learning.
2. Describe "thoughtful spaces" for children to a parent or teacher who is interested in implementing them.
I think it is inspiring to look at the spaces we create for the children in our lives with a fresh perspective. When designing a space for children, it is helpful to think about the characteristics that you as an adult would like. Often grown-ups create spaces for children with pre-conceived ideas of what children like, rather than considering basic elements of a useful and practical space.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when designing spaces that inspire playful learning:
· Can your child access the materials she needs independently? Are they organized in baskets/ bins that are clearly labeled so that your child knows how and where to put things away when she is finished?
· Are the materials high quality and presented in an attractive manner that “invites” your child to use them?
· Do the materials, toys, and games that you have out represent a balance between your child’s and your own preferences. Do they represent what you value and encourage your child to engage in activities that you feel good about?
· What is your child currently interested in? If your child no longer uses his dinosaurs, but has been talking a lot about birds, make sure that his play space reflects his current passions. Rotating toys is a great way to keep your child interested in his play space activities and ultimately prolongs the life of his playthings. It never ceases to amaze me how excited the girls get about a toy that comes back into rotation. The nostalgia they feel towards a toy they have not seen in awhile is almost better than if it was a brand new toy.
· Is it a calming environment that allows one to focus on the task at hand without distracting colors, decorations, or objects?
· Are you seeing things from your child’s perspective? Literally put yourself in your child’s shoes to determine the right height for displaying and storing materials as well as hanging art.
· Is this a space that makes you want to make art, explore science, write stories, and so on? If so, would you have everything you need to do what you want to do? What else could you add to enrich and deepen your experience?
3. Why do you believe it is important for parents to create these thoughtful spaces in their homes/classrooms?
A well-prepared environment can result in many hours of self-guided, independent, creative, and productive time for your children. Although it takes some thought and preparation, the results can be life changing for both you and your child.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 and an awesome giveaway !