Lately at the schoolhouse, there has been a lot of dramatic play.
“Let’s play like we’re in a hotel!”, suggests one student.
“Yeah! Can I be the hotel manager?”
“Can I be a guest?”
“This will be my room and here is the kitchen.”
Others start to pitch in their roles and character names for the new play idea and a setting is quickly assembled. This new play idea will go on for all of self-directed learning and sometimes last a week. With each new day the play changes, but it always starts out the same.
I recently read an article about a therapist who tried to sit in at a middle school for a whole day. She ended up leaving mid day, because she got restless and bored in a chair having to be quiet and listen. It’s hard to see some school systems like this where students are limited in movement and play. Play is fundamental for growth and development for any one, especially young people. Piaget said it best, “Play is the most authentic expression and the most effective learning aid of the child.” In the hotel game alone I observed students practicing flexibility with ideas, problem solving, working with other students, and listening to their bodies and knowing when to take a break. At the end of the day they all seemed happy and fulfilled. A part of our philosophy is providing children with opportunities to equally develop all parts of themselves. Social skills, physical developemnt, and emotional intelligence all occur during play and is something we nurture at the schoolhouse.