I most recently started researching Peter Gray and other unschooling- play researchers and learned a lot.
Most of what I've been doing naturally in my work at Gradale and with my own camps and pandemic pods is based on child-led structured play. I watched Peter Gray's "the decline of play" on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk&t=849s)
and I also found a fantastic teacher "teacher Tom" online.
I know instinctively that kids like to play and need it because they are happy when they do it but also they learn how to get along.
When kids are given freedom to play, they will. They will play all day. Hunter gatherer children who have been studied, say that the children and young teenagers were free to play and explore all day long from day to dusk all day long. The adults in these cultures know to let them play because it helps them learn.
These kids are super resilient, cooperative, mature, and happy. Therefore, play is really important that young mammals aquire skills that will let them be successful adults.
Why is play then on the decline? In the last 50-60 years, children have lost the ability to play. When I ask my parents who are in their 60's, they told me they had school but that they would spend most of their time playing outside alone with their friends or siblings. Not only this but the recess and lunch time hours were much longer during school. Kids in elementary school didn't have homework so this gave them more time to play.
We need to bring back this hunter-gatherer education for kids. Kids NEED more time to play. Play is self-controlled and self-directed. The self-directed aspect of play gives it the educative power says Peter Gray.
Stop having a 'schoolish' view of education thinking that adults are the only ones who can educate children. This isn't grounded in facts and science about how children learn.
5 to 8 times as many kids today suffer from anxiety or depression as was true in the 1950's. The suicide rate of 15 and under has gained tremendously. Our world is declining for children. Not only this but children feel they have a lack of control of their lives more and more.
In my work with children during the pandemic, they have continued to show the highest rates of resiliency than the adults. They are more concerned with playing with their friends than they are about the pandemic. The kids I work with are motivated by playing, climbing, using their imaginations, being creative, and problem solving in groups than they are about the pandemic.
Things must change. If you are confused about how to educate your children right now as a homeschooling parent or you are worried that they are learning enough at school, please try to study the decline of play. Our anxieties and worries are completely in the wrong direction, worrying about academics when we should rather be concerned about the lack of recess time our children get, the lack of time they have playing freely with their friends, the lack of time they get to choose how they want to play, and the increase in mental health disorders of children.
Play play and more play is needed.
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I'm a teacher, outdoor educator, forest school practitioner and all round nature lover.