I’m not quite sure what you’d call this……. Nesting? The collecting of many items from across the playground….. the piling up of said items. What I did notice was how the children then loved to climb in and around the pile. Over, under and through. I watched for quite some time, mesmerised and absorbed in their play. Thinking about what it was exactly they were achieving. A huge amount of spacial awareness – both the environment and their bodies. I’m sure as they were lifting, carrying and placing there was learning about size, weight and balance (there was considerable thought to the ‘placement’ of many items). There were social interactions going on – cooperation, agreement, collaboration, solidarity. Oh yep – I’m an early childhood professional – I can go through that big long list of outcomes, and apply a whole heap.
Fact is, in the end – these children were driven by innate actions. All of which see them file more information in their brains about their world. And the BIGGEST thing, is that they were enabled. Nobody stopped this seemingly aimless activity going on. People just went about their own stuff as this group slowly stockpiled everything in the yard that wasn’t tied down and that wasn’t being used by somebody else. Is it important that we ‘know’ what is happening? Or is it more important that we allow it to happen?
Children need to be able to engage themselves fully in what they are doing. When we break it up – they lose the purpose behind their play. When we impose rules – we destroy the learning that would have occurred. Much of this type of play can be related to Piaget’s theories around schemas. Repeated patterns in play.
We can learn a lot through this play – if we keep our distance. More than anything else, we can better understand how to support children’s learning. When we have a strong grasp of theory and drivers, it enables us to support the environments to allow play to occur naturally. As it was intended. So having a yard full of the ‘stuff’ that children need, is essential.
Oh, and the other thing that I can learn – is to stay grounded. To let go of my controlling nature. And know that instead, I am supporting greatness. When we empower children in their play – they build on the skills they are requiring for their here and now, and also for their future. There is no part of children’s play that does not support this idea. And there is nothing more satisfying that seeing the joy in play – as children come together. Nothing really at all.