I have spent my adult life in the company of children: as a mother, as a teacher, and as a researcher in the science of play.
I don’t think I would have defined what I was doing during my career as play, but as I look back at the most joyful moments of my teaching and mothering (both spanning more than 25 years!) I see that happy inquiry really has been at the heart of it, even the more serious and scholarly aspects.
I was blessed to have my third child in my forties and it has shifted much of what I thought I knew about education and cemented other theories. Montessori taught that her teachers should observe students objectively like scientists, and that is what I have done with my daughter, even taking notes(very informally, mostly on the notepad of my iphone) so that I can go back and compare what I see.
She is 8 now, and her learning includes teaching her stuffed animals, having pop up shops in the living room, making food for her play kitchen with her dad out of wood and learning how to use tools in the process. I try my best (and fail at times) to follow this natural inclination and curiosity in our home school lessons.
During the past year, my husband and I worked to transform a greasy old tool shed in the back yard into a small art studio. It has been enormous fun and really is such a cheerful space. I began holding children’s art classes there last fall, both as a way to contribute to the family income and a means to do what I love: give children the tools to create.
But there is a third reason, and this one might be primary. I suspect that one some level I needed to start this business to give myself permission to play. I love creating, but sometimes have felt more comfortable in the role of an art facilitator than an artist. And often we adults have a hard time allowing ourselves the freedom to do something simply because we love it. Enter the art studio.
There is a huge body of research on play and its benefits to the brain but I won’t wax scientific right now. If you are interested in seeing some resources, however, you might check out the goldmine website The Strong: The National Museum of Play.
I will close with a couple of quotes by greater minds than mine on the subject:
“Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.” ~ Jean Piaget
” We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” ~George Bernard Shaw
Have a playful day, friends.