Playground Brilliance

10 Jan

What is a typical park day? Like any other day of our lives, there is no typical. This day, however, does have all of the general components that make up a ‘usual’ day at the park. Many of our schooled friends and family wonder how we can possibly be LEARNing when we spend so much time PLAYing. The response: Learning is joyful not painful! Learning happen always in all ways.

How will your kids learn to make new friends? They do it all the time- with excitement and ease. Their friendships are not limited to time, place, age, or interest. They enjoy interactions fully and in the moment. Their definition of a ‘friend’ is beautifully pure and open. Here Sadie makes friends with some toddlers.

We spend a lot of time everywhere we go appreciating our natural surroundings and its inhabitants. We are always seeing new species that we’ve never seen before. We describe them, hypothesize about them, make up stories about them, talk to them, etc.

This is a toad we saved from some less than gentle younger children. Elijah and Sadie gave instructions on proper holding and then whisked him away to a safer location. We observed a shrill pleading coming from this guy which was a new sound we haven’t heard in our vast experience with toads. It was decided that this was the sound of terror and the kids did what they could to return him to a safe and comfortable habitat.

Look at this cool acorn! Which tree did it come from? How many ways can we use it in a fairy house? How many more can we find? How many have tops vs. how many that don’t? There is never a need for quizzing or manipulating. Their learning is organic, inquisitive, interested, continuous.

This park day ended with a tremendous group collaboration with children ranging in age from 2 to 7. They worked as a team figuring out how to get each child who wished to have a turn on the swing and each child who wished to push into their desired position. They respected each other when one child didn’t want to swing so high, fast, spinny. They lifted the little ones up and down. They managed and negotiated so that it was a fun-filled event for all.

Yes, there is much learning to be had at the playground- and everywhere else.


Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Playground Brilliance

  1. Natalie

    May 2, 2010 at 6:13 am

    One of the areas I have a bit of a hard time is with my children’s desire and willingness to engage with anyone when they go out and the response they sometimes get from other children.

    My daughter in particular has a deep desire to connect with other people and has no qualms about going up to any children of any age in new parks we visit and saying hello and chatting with them.

    The challenge seems to come up with children who are used to only mixing with their own class in school or may have been warned about the dangers of talking to strangers and so she often gets blanked. She sometimes tries a few times in case they just didn’t hear her, but I find it really sad when they pretend she isn’t there and she comes back to me after a few tries.

    I try and use the opportunity to talk with her about how she feels about it and we talk about some of the reasons why people might respond in that way so that she can be compassionate about those kids (and sometimes adults too), but I still find it challenging some days.

    I wonder if it’s only in the UK? Have you or others readers encountered it? And if you have, how do you deal with it?

  2. Sarah

    May 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Yes, Natalie. Sadie encounters this on occasion with little girls at the park. Generally, I have attributed it to the pack mentality/cliques of school children who find safety in their self-defined groups. I can see it coming when we go to parks where children have come to the park together in these groups. They are much less welcoming to adding new members to their play than individual children or siblings who come to the park with their parents. We (and I can say this with absolute certainty and confidence) have NEVER encountered with with our homeschool/unschool friends. Everyone is always welcome to play and any misunderstandings are quickly worked out by the children or adults are asked for assistance. It is another distinction that solidifies my desire to have my children socialized appropriately OUTSIDE of school.


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