Post 3 in the series #beforeimetplay .
Before I Met Play, I was always trying to control all the littles around me. Do this when it’s time, do that because we have to show proof you are learning, do this because that is what school looks like, do that because I’m the teacher and know what is best!
I really had no knowledge base on how wonderful a community of learners can be when children are respected as capable human beings. 💕
Fast forward.... I now knowthat (according to Peter Gray - psychologist and author of Free to Learn) that the best learning is intrinsic! Motivation! Children must be intrinsically motivated to do the thing that gets them to learn the things. This means, the best learning happens when they want to do it!
Let me break it down for you in an adult lens. Give me a book on finance and I would read it if someone was forcing me to, but would I enjoy it? Nope. Would I learn (Learn in the - retain that info and apply it for the rest of my life- way) a lot from it? Probably not. But, give me a book on Alcatraz (which I find fascinating) and I will absorb that info and want to learn more. It works like that for kids too!!
This is embarrassing, but there was one point where I had a “center time” and the children had to move every 10 minutes to a new station. One of the stations was a pizza shop and I told them what jobs they had to do! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I tried to control their time so much! No wonder I left feeling stressed and anxious. No wonder the kids were acting out and showing challenging behaviors!
We carefully decide on what materials to put in the classroom environment for the children to use how, and when they feel motivated, intrinsically, to use them. And then, we step back and let the children do the learning! In the photo above, we paired play dough with tiny little animals of all different types. Children are natural mathematicians and count, sort by attribute, compare and contrast all while kneading the play dough and strengthening their fine motor skills.
Free the children, let them play what they want to play!