Tuesday, 16 July 2013

play = voice

By Anna  

It must be summer: Long days, humid nights, more bug bites than we can count, and lots of good stories. The other day I was lucky enough to be snuggled with my 4-year-old-daughter Eliza in her bottom bunk reading one of our favorite books, Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. On page 38 there is a poem called The Voice.

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long.
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

In the field of child development, we talk about children’s inner speech; a personal, internal monologue children develop and practice, as they go about their daily lives - narratives they work through in their own minds, building on social experiences and the spoken exchanges around them. Lots of voices contribute to this inner speech. By modeling language that supports children’s thinking, we scaffold children’s vocabulary. We help children process difficult situations by talking through events with them. As we think out loud, we make our own ideas more accessible to children. As they grow, children sift through everything they see and hear, they work through various ideas, and build their own understanding.

How do children develop and continuously practice their inner speech for themselves? It all begins in play. Through play, children work within the space of their own self-initiated ideas, and they build on these ideas by thinking and talking and thinking some more. We hear a child whispering to herself adamantly, as she builds a tower out of blocks and carefully chooses one shape or size over the other. And this “thinking out loud” becomes part of the child’s inner speech. We witness the drama unfold as a child role-plays two diametrically opposed characters in one – giving voice to good and evil, powerful and weak, and so on, practicing different perspectives. Through play, children develop their voice – not just how they talk, but their own opinions, determination, their own sense of truth and their understanding of their place in the world.

What happens when children don’t play? They stop listening to the “voice that speaks inside”. They loose their own voice. What happens when children lose their voice? Well, in a world where democracy is the gold standard, where we must believe that each of us has something important to say, let’s not ever let this happen.

play = voice

Together, we can all support child-directed play. Learn more and contact us at www.popupadventureplay.org

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Reflections from the PDC: The Dragonfly Funeral

By Zan

Pop-Up Adventure Play has recently created its very own Playworker Development Course. It's a course where student playworkers have the space to nurture their instincts for playwork, and learn more about the theory behind the practice. We encourage discussion, do observations, find answers for quizzical minds, and reflect on our own playful practice.

Here is a reflective story from a playworker in the first cohort:
"On the way to adventure playground at The Parish School one afternoon, the kids found a dragonfly on the sidewalk that had died. One of the kids carefully picked it up and asked what happened. We told them that dragonflies have a relatively short life span and that it looked like it was just an old dragonfly that died. They immediately decided that we needed to have a funeral.  They gently took the dragonfly into a structure they called the clubhouse. The kids found a little box and placed the dragonfly in it. They said some beautiful words about the dragonfly, said a prayer, and closed the box. They could so eloquently figure out a way that all of their feelings and needs could be met. Their ability to be tolerant and understanding of each other made me envious. The kids left the clubhouse and dug a hole in the ground. They placed the little box in the hole and covered it with dirt. Someone decided it needed a stone to mark the gravesite. Just as quickly as a dragonfly flies, the kids scattered and went to climb, run, or dig. It was over." ~ Kelly Blessing, Assignment 1, PDC 
Photo of the gravesite courtesy of Jill Wood who works with Kelly Blessing.

This is a touching account of a playful moment that literally speaks of life and death. To me, it shows just how capable children are of dealing with situations that we as adults often struggle with. It also reminds me of how through play, you can learn to navigate your way through tough times and afterwards it all seems to be okay.

This account also reminds us playworkers to share our stories with one another. We grow by reflecting upon our own stories and the stories of others. To improve our own practice we have to share our reflections so that we may have new insights that can make our advocacy more effective, and our practice more child-centric.

To hear more from Zan, please visit her blog. For more information about us, please visit popupadventureplay.org