Remarkable learning through ordinary play

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on December 22, 2012

in Infant and Toddler, Remarkable Learning through Ordinary Play

I am so blessed to have this season of life where I get to be a grandma and an educator at the same time.  As a grandma, I am able to take the time to observe my grandson at play and as an educator, I am able to appreciate and identify the remarkable learning that comes through ordinary play…

Remarkable Learning through Ordinary Play by Teach Preschool

Play with toys around the house or the classroom can appear to be not all that special but if you take the time to really observe a child’s ordinary play, you will see that remarkable learning and development is taking place. As you learn to be observant of the ordinary, you will also learn what role you play in fostering the remarkable…

Remarkable Learning through Ordinary Play by Teach Preschool

Sometimes the remarkable can be missed. Haphazard-looking play to intentional play to mastering new skills can happen in just one simple afternoon or over a few weeks.

For example, in just one week my grandson’s play has changed from dumping toys in and out of the top of the bus to intentionally placing toys in and out of the doorway of the bus. Ordinary play often starts out looking haphazard or chaotic but when given time to freely explore through ordinary play, remarkable growth and development is always taking place…

Remarkable Learning through Ordinary Play by Teach Preschool

Sometimes we can interrupt the remarkable. For example, my grandson was trying to open the door using the tiny outside handle of the door. My initial reaction was to show him how to reach his finger inside the door to pull it open but instead, I watched him take his time, work with his finger tips, and master the skill of pulling the door open by himself…

Remarkable Learning through Ordinary Play by Teach Preschool

Sometimes, the remarkable isn’t obvious. Now that my grandson wanted to use only the doorway to put toys in the bus, he began filling the bus with random objects from around his play space. Soon, he brought over a toy truck that was too large to fit in the doorway. To me, it was obvious that the truck wouldn’t fit through the doorway, but what wasn’t obvious is what my grandson might be learning.  Through the process of trial and error, my grandson is developing new understanding of concepts such as size, space, and shape and in time he will begin to master these kinds of concepts…

Remarkable learning through ordinary play by Teach Preschool

Fostering the remarkable through ordinary play

Here are a few ways you can help foster the remarkable through ordinary play…

  • Give children time and resources to explore the ordinary through everyday play. Remember that mastering concepts comes through different stages of play – from haphazard to intentional to mastering – and these stages will be different and look different for each child.
  • Broaden your understanding of what is happening and what you consider to be acceptable play.  As you can see above, a school bus is more that just a toy that should be rolled across the floor. If you limit a child’s ordinary play to what you think it should look like, then you might just miss out on the remarkable.
  • Be a play observer.  Sometimes, adults can unintentionally interrupt the remarkable by being too quick to “fix” or “solve” the problem. Take a minute to observe play and you might just discover something remarkable is going on.
  • Be a play partner.  A play partner doesn’t take over the play but rather models new kinds of play.  The modeling of play shouldn’t be to control or restrict the play but rather to invite new ideas for play. We have had this bus since my grandson was born and all the while as my grandson would dump the people out of the bus, I would quietly sit down and put them all back in.  This wasn’t to “correct” his play but to model the possibility for his future reference.

Remarkable learning through Ordinary play by Teach Preschool

Do you have an example of remarkable learning through ordinary play to share? Feel free share by leaving a comment below..

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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