Young children can do amazing things when they have the time. You’ll read article after article talking about how we over schedule our kids and we need to slow down and simplify. However, I think it goes even farther then that. We don’t just need to simplify, we need to give them the blocks of uninterrupted time to let their ideas unfurl.
I am very lucky to now be working at a “learning through play” preschool. Our whole day is built around giving them large chunks of time to play, and the materials to do it. In just three short weeks I’ve seen how this “gift of time” is leading to more and more complex ideas and cooperation.
Take the block area. The picture above is from the first day…and it was quite a mess. They delighted in pulling out every block (it was new to many of them), building structures as tall as they could and then crashing them down. It was glorious fun, but it was pretty one dimensional.
Now here we are in week three. The same groups of kids are coming back to the blocks time after time. Instead of just fighting to get the choice materials they are banding together to make more and more complicated structures. This picture is of the fire truck they built, with enough seats stretching out behind for four or five kids.
I think that often we adults think that if kids have the same things to play with day after day that they’ll get bored. Maybe that is true with “uni tasker” toys (an Alton Brown phrase for something that only does ONE thing). But, with open-ended toys time can actually make the play more involved and they can get MORE engaged…rather then bored.
Does your space have room for kids to explore? Do they have access to materials? Most importantly, do they have time to do it?