PLAYTIME 101 – The best education ever!

Wow! I had the most amazing day today! I volunteer my time in my daughter’s class throughout the week. Children are amazing beings and as much as I love to assist in their learning, today was one of those days where I learned more.The school participated in a PLAY DAY which consisted of exactly this. 100% PLAY. The morning began with the usual moment of mediation for ‘mindfulness’ and then followed by the principal’s voice over the intercom. She expressed how the gym, library, and all classrooms were not effectively open for full play. And when recess rolled around, the children were then allowed to continue playing outside until lunchtime was over. And when lunchtime ended, play would proceed indoors until it was time to go home.  A full day of lock down PLAY PLAYTIME!
Lessons of the Day:
1. MOTIVATION & ATTRACTION : With the freedom
10672251_10152480896498860_5187178663614965250_n to do as they pleased, surprisingly the children were extremely orderly and naturally found what interested them most. They were more in order than a regular day of instruction. Haha. Each of their energy levels were at a high, curiosity levels heightened and confidence blossomed because they could do whatever they decided to do of their own choosing.
  • Good instincts usually tell you what to do before your head figures it out. – Micheal Burke
  • Doing what you like is freedom.  Liking what you do is happiness. – Anonymous
2. SIMPLICITY & COMPASSION: There were no judgements amongst the students and the collaboration and acceptance of anyone in a group was amazing!  The very same kids I have witnessed not get along during class work time, seemed to be having a blast playing with the same items. If anyone felt like playing with someone else or a group, they were immediately part of the game. If they were not interested or changed their mind, they were easily free to leave and find something else.  It was this simple and participants shared a common respect for every other participant.  During times of play, the enjoyment and fun factor overrode any possible negativity.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo Da Vinci
  • If you want others to be happy. Practice compassion.  If you want to be happy. Practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
3. SHARING & TEAMWORK: During regular class times, there have been activities where groups are needed to created by a teacher. In doing this, sometimes the children would fight for positions or a space to be seen or heard.  Sometimes competition would arise when there seemed to be a necessary goal to achieve. Today, seamlessly, everyone was neutral. If a game was created, all participants magically knew they were involved and seemed to enjoy whatever they ended up doing. When board games were pulled out, each player assembled and disassembled the games like they had done it a million times.  Each participant taking care of one part of the job, and effortlessly accomplishing things.  All the kids were collaborating and offering their willingness to help without being instructed to nor how.  Even when there weren’t enough pieces, blocks, equipment to go around, somehow they all had seemed equally intrigued and interested in the activity.  Either a group would watch one person demonstrate a task, all participants took turns, or children would help encourage each other with ideas while working on a project together.
  • The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team. – Phil Jackson
  • No one can whistle a symphony.  It takes a whole orchestra to play it. -H.E. Luccock
4. COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION: There are a few students that have learning disabilities in the class. They seem to struggle during regular class hours with learning disabilities, communication, attention, etc. During today’s activities, you would not have been able to pick them out. In a setting of play, every student had the freedom to communicate as they found most comfortable, and all dialogue seemed to be executed and received easily. In class, my own daughter can hardly be heard.  She refuses to speak up or share her ideas a lot.   She can also become unmotivated easily.  Yet, when she gets to play or if I change any given situation, chore or task to a playful one, her personality really shines.  Haha. The usually distracted children in class also ended up being some of the most focused on what they were engulfed in.  Those that were usually asked to keep quiet during times of study flourished with being loud over the bustle.  Their freedom to move ironically resulted in stillness.  The ones that could not read or write well, built or drew such beautiful and intricate creations.  Reading or following instructions was no longer a requirement to allowing them to express their thoughts.  Today was about allowing their thoughts to come to life. Originality burst and splattered everywhere.
  • Success in any endeavour depends on the degree to which it is an expression of your true self. – Ralph Marston
  • If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint. – Edward Hopper
5. IMAGINATION & CURIOSITY: Probably the best part for me about today day, was the endless amounts of creativity and imagination being shared. Blocks turned into cars, bridges, furniture. Lego turned into fortresses and ships. Paper and stencils turned into beautiful designs. The once 4 walls of a classroom turned into Forever-Ever Land! It amazed me how the children were allowed to bring any toy of their choice from home, but instead many found extreme joy in simply rolling dice, walking around or moving chess pieces to a game they did not understand yet.
  • The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. – Albert Einstein
  • I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. – Pablo Picasso
6. DECISION MAKING & PROBLEM SOLVING: The children were free to make up their own minds today. Along with this freedom was the need to also solve problems as they arose. As an example, some kids ran for the gym.  They couldn’t wait!  It wasn’t long before they returned to the classroom. When asked why, they expressed to me that there were too many big kids present and did not want to get injured, so they were going to find something else they liked. All day the children were free to decide what was best for themselves and in doing so, the best came out of them. To be honest, there weren’t any problems today to fix in my opinion. These kids just knew what to do and executed in its simplest form, which in the end was the most powerful.
  • Our children need to be taught HOW to think, and not WHAT to think. – Anonymous
  • It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. – Ann Landers
Just another day in class ended up being a blessing in disguise.  What an amazing adventure.  I did not stay for the rest of the day, and still left filled to brim with important reminders of living life.  I refuse to allow my soul to become old, and it’s a wonderful treat to know that great attempts in protecting our very core as a human race exists.  I don’t mean to ramble on about all this, but I simply could not help but do so.  The most sophisticated lessons of life took place in it’s simplest form today and it was all about HAVING FUN!  Imagine that!
No phones were present, no TV’s, no gadgets, nobody telling anyone how they needed to be.  There was no judgement, comparing, negativity in the play space. Each child was free to be themselves and the energy was so much to take! Half the class was battling a cold as well, but when it was play time, I personally haven’t seen them happier, healthier, upbeat. No negative talk seemed to exist, comparisons, stress, insecurities, doubt, etc.  Like today for a school full of kids was about living in the moment and enjoying anything and everything they were engaging in.
I could go on forever about the many other things that went on and what could be learned, but this is the beauty of it all.  The answers to many questions to stresses we have in life are right under our nose.  In conclusion…as stated, EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW WE MOST LIKELY ALREADY LEARNED IN GRADE SCHOOL.  So, turn inward, give your 5 or 7 year old self a visit and get to know them again. Be reminded of what made that child smile, laugh, dance, what they loved to create, made their heart melt.  Most importantly, take the time in the present time to remember to PLAY PLAY and PLAY.
In connection with my 5 year old self today,
On a  closing note…
Here’s a dedicated to the kid in all of us:CARDBOARD SAILBOAT (c) 2015 Bernadette Saquibal

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