My first degree was in Early Childhood Education and it was in this degree that I first fully understood the importance of play. The theory was all learnt at university (thank you QUT Early Childhood department) and as a beginning teacher I saw the theory in action in early childhood classrooms knew that play was of the utmost importance.
My favourite memories of my own childhood are of playing; with my siblings, peers and huge circle of family friends that I affectionately refer to here as my village. Playing was just what we did, it was never questioned or agonised over and there was little or no thought that we should be inside participating in ‘meaningful learning experiences’. Our meaningful learning experiences were all done through play: construction of cubbyhouses and imaginary worlds; experimentation with floating and sinking (the caterpillar didn’t float); negotiating with our peers over roles and what would happen next; learning our times tables (or not in my case) in the never ending games of ‘school’ and empathising with one another as bones were broken, feelings were hurt and hearts were broken.
I could write 5000 words on the importance of play and what we start to see when play is absent in the lives of children, but far more academic and wise people than I have already done this. Suffice to say, I am a huge advocate for play in childhood and I want my own children to experience just some of the magic of play that I experienced as a child. I personally think that it’s a little tougher these days to allow as much time for play as we once had; between technology, schedules and the feeling that we must ‘entertain and educate’ our children at all times – we’ve made it hard for ourselves. But I’m a big fan of my children saying ‘I’m bored’ as this is when play really comes into it’s own.
My dreadfully bored children were slowly and steadily destroying me last weekend and #backboy had a really bad pain weekend (he’s normally the Chosen One on weekends). They were bemoaning their lack of toys and I sounded like my mother as I said time and time again ‘you have plenty of toys and there are children in the world who only have sticks as toys and they are perfectly happy with this!’. It’s true they don’t have a huge amount of toys and never have (as has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – you know who you are!) but they do have a Sylvannian Family collection. I’m in no way connected to this brand – but oh my glory this was a good collection to start for birthdays and Christmas! So last weekend when they were sooooooooooo bored, I told ChickPea and PudStar to go and clean up the Sylvannian Family hotel and I’d put it on their desk/Lego table for them.
Four hours later and they had turned the entire Grand Hotel into a library (oh how proud was this librarian/mother? Seriously my librarian heart was happy) using bits of old cards, parts of their fairy garden and lots of Sylvannian furniture re-purposed for use in a library. The library has a garden on the top, an outdoor reading balcony for handstands, a cafe and two bedrooms for when people want to read in bed. Only twice did I have to stop them gouging out eyes – once when the table had to be moved away from the wall so that they could play on either side (I just want her over that side so I don’t have to even look at her) and once so that poor old ChickPea could be given a ‘room’ in the library – she got the conservatory and immediately stuck a dinosaur fossil in it before returning to being the delivery driver for the library.
This table, from Table and Desk has been brilliant and I constantly congratulate myself on it’s purchase. It is sometimes a desk for homework, sometimes a craft table, sometimes a Lego table and for now it’s a library table. It’s the perfect size for this space because you choose the size yourself down to the last mm – genius (and not sponsored!).
I found it very hard to stifle laughter on reading the covers of the books as some of them reflected pretty much our last month; ‘Handstands’ (thanks to Eden Riley Pud is a handstanding demon); ‘Wow! Grace and Dignity’ (I spend an awful lot of time saying/screaming ‘grace and dignity’ to Pud); and ‘Just Relax’ (#backboy spends much time saying this to me).
I love following the hashtags #
I just noticed that ChickPea has a peg in her hair (?!) AND THAT SHE HAS DRAWN ON THE WALL AND THE HUTCH BEHIND HER. Seriously child.