Why We Need to Initiate Play More Than Ever!

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Why We Need to Initiate Play More Than Ever!

Consider this: The average child spends up to 8 hours a day on technology. It’s addictive nature, combined with the increasing busyness of our lives, makes it difficult for parents to pull children away from their screens, and get them playing. And yet, it is more necessary than ever to do so! The more the toy does, the less the child does. I was recently invited to a dinner party at a friend’s place. One of the adults there – also a friend – brought her two young girls with her. Instead of doing the adult thing and chit chatting around the dinner table, I played with the girls… for four hours! We played hide and seek, turned yoga blocks into boats and forts, created […]

Doodle, Dream, and the Dance of Co-Creation ~ 3 Stages to Unlocking the Gifts of Free Unstructured Play

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Doodle, Dream, and the Dance of Co-Creation ~ 3 Stages to Unlocking the Gifts of Free Unstructured Play

“Drawing/doodling can help us to focus on the task at hand. Listening or reading with pencil in hand leads to a 29% better memory recall. Draw/doodling offsets the effects of ‘selective memory blockade’.” ~ Journal of Applied Psychology, February 2009 A few years ago, I was walking along the streets of Summerside, PEI, when I spontaneously began to make some funny noises with my mouth. The sounds were a combination of gibberish and rapping. As I allowed myself to explore and play with these sounds some more, I eventually sank into an eccentric and rhythmic beatbox that I thoroughly enjoyed! It was then that something unexpected happened. A thought appeared in my mind: This is doodling! This is what children do when then draw, except I am […]

Remembering Joy ~ Touching the Immeasurable Essence of Life

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Remembering Joy ~ Touching the Immeasurable Essence of Life

The more you teach the measurable, the more children will feel like they can never measure up. Since our early years, we have been inculcated with that which is measurable. We have not been fully supported to gaze in wonder at a butterfly, and explore the feelings and insights it gives us. Instead, increasingly we’ve had to know about it – to understand what kind of butterfly it is, how/where it flies, and what it eats. Rational thought and knowledge has indeed surpassed the purity of wonder. Knowing about has usurped our ability and desire to just be with—to commune with our surroundings, to be present with life. With pressures from parents and schools, and influences from society as a whole, we have become gatherers of the information age, conquers of time and […]

Play is Training for the Real World

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Play is Training for the Real World

What skills and attitudes are needed to live in the real world? “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” ~ Woody Allen When you look at the two paths expressed in the image above, what would you say are the skills needed to travel the path above versus below? How do we need to be? What attitudes are necessary? In considering the path below, I would guess one of the first skills or attitudes you thought of was flexibility. (I say this because when I ask my playshop participants the same question it seems to always be the first answer shared, not just by one person, but many, which I find personally interesting!). I would also guess that you might […]

4 Criteria for Teaching and Learning ~ Empowering Both Teacher and Student

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4 Criteria for Teaching and Learning ~ Empowering Both Teacher and Student

In my playshops with teachers we have regular conversations about what structures support and limit education. We discuss how certain structures, that we think need to be put in place, may in fact get in the way of a child’s learning and development. Education is ongoing balance between structure and flow. Too much structure and we stifle the child’s creative spirit and capacity to make decisions for herself. Too much flow and there may not be a container, and enough guidance or safety. It is my personal opinion that for teaching and learning to thrive, any structure used should meet the following four criteria: Does it support the child’s safety? Does it support the child’s academic development? Does it support the child’s creativity and imagination? Does it support the child’s self-esteem and empowerment, including her capacity to be self-directed? […]

How to Turn a Snake into a Sword ~ From Reasoning to Playing Along

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How to Turn a Snake into a Sword ~ From Reasoning to Playing Along

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt A three-year-old girl was attempting to play with her older brothers who were messing around with swords. The mother didn’t know why she was bothering her brothers’ boyish fun, and was tempted to redirect her to something more suitable. In that moment, however, she caught herself. She went on to say, “Instead of reasoning, I met her in her world.” The daughter had a toy snake in her hand, and the mother moved next to her and suggested that maybe she could use it as a sword. She played along with her daughter’s imaginative impulses, and validated her in the process. Mom parked her […]

Go Outside and Play!

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Go Outside and Play!

“Go outside and play!” said God. “I have given you Universes as fields to run free in! And here – take this and wrap yourself in it – It’s called LOVE and it will always, always keep you warm. And stars! The sun and the moon and the stars! Look upon these often, for they will remind you of your own light! And eyes… oh, gaze into the eyes of every Lover; gaze into the eyes of every other for they have given you their Universes as fields to run free in. There. I have given you everything you need. Now go, go, go outside and play!” “Go Outside and Play” – from Home Remembers Me: Medicine Poems from em claire ©em claire All Rights […]

Doing For Versus Playing With ~ Balancing Responsibilities with Joyful Connection

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Doing For Versus Playing With ~ Balancing Responsibilities with Joyful Connection

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ~ Richard L. Evans   An interesting question to ask yourself is, How much did your parents play with you when you were a child? If you were one of the lucky ones, your parents played with you a lot. But for so many others, their parents were focused more on the responsibilities of being a parent than on being a playful companion. This the difference between doing for and playing with.  When we do for, we are less connected to the other, and more focused on an agenda in our minds such as driving our kids somewhere or cooking dinner. We are task oriented and in doing […]

Playing with Perspective ~ Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Child

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Playing with Perspective ~ Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Child

“When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.”  ~ Fred Rogers Play is not just something we do; it is a perspective from which to see life. It is a worldview that invites endless possibilities to creatively engage people, objects and places. I was hiking up a mountain a few weeks back and came across a tree that was lying on its side, tilted downwards, paralleling the steepness of the trail. One might look at this object and see only a tree that’s fallen on its side. What I immediately saw was a slide that was inviting me to […]

45 Seconds of Joy

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45 Seconds of Joy

“Grown men can learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things that older people miss.” ~ Black Elk. Children are such wonderful teachers. I love how much joy they get out of the simplest things in life. They remind us to delight in the great blessings that surround us in every moment, and to be unabashed in our celebration. Start your week with a smile: Take 45 seconds to let these two little teachers connect you to the delighted and joyous child in you. “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt *             […]