Here at Children’s Circle the teachers (Kaiako) work hard to provide an environment that supports children (tamariki) to play deeply either independently or with and alongside others.
It is through their play that children make sense of their world. One also has to be in a state of comfort or relaxation in order to play, we know this as adults. We can’t be playful if we are stressed or rushed.
Providing a range of natural, moveable and open-ended equipment as well as time and space, invites children to express themselves through exploratory, creative and imaginative play. When children are fully active and present in their play a sort of hum resonates through the centre. This type of play leaves the child satisfied, it has done it’s job and nourished the childs inner and outer being.
The foundations for creative play are laid in the earliest months and years …… up the age of around 3 the child innately learns through imitation.
This is the way the child learns to relate to others, develop language, and to use his/her body; these are the foundations for later imaginative play. At this early stage the young child needs lots of opportunities to explore imitation through watching good examples of basic everyday relationships, activities and the ‘jobs of life’. With well chosen everyday objects the child can re-enact what they are seeing and experiencing. This exploration will gradually transform into play scenarios, evidenced by around 3 years of age and later again into imaginative play, around 5-6 years of age.
Be aware that TV, computer games, videos etc are not great substitutes for adults actively providing living role-models for the young child to imitate.
More and more research and experience are providing evidence that play is essential for the well-being of tamariki, physically (ā tinana) emotionally/intellectually, (ā hinengaro) and spiritually (ā wairua). These first years called childhood are a sacred and unique developmental stage with specific requirements. If we get this bit right we are supporting our tamariki to manage the rest of their lives well with confidence, courage, determination, resilience, creativity and social competence.
There is no prescribed agenda or outcomes for the children’s play but rather it is initiated and propelled by the tamariki themselves.
Once upon a time ……. anything can happen.
"There is only one difference between the play of the child and the work of the adult. It is that the adult adapts himself to the outer utility which the world demands: his work is determined from without. Play is determined from within, through the being of the child, which wants to unfold."
Rudolf Steiner - Dornach lecture, 1923. (Oldfield, 2009, p. 83).