Do Our Children Have Enough Time To Play?
We’re all just so busy these days. Rushed and scheduled activities and planned entertainment for the children are common nowadays. But we also need to consider the importance of giving our children time to just explore and play. Time to discover, to develop ideas to move beyond boredom into exploration mode.
Discovery Through Play
A great example is how a 5yr old who initially appeared bored, quietly sitting under a tree at the edge of a lake, went on to create this beautiful raft which is constructed with a bundle of sticks and soft pumice stones. Items that were scattered across the beach others may not have even noticed. With enough time- half an hour, he sat down and ‘played’ or ‘experimented’ with them until he discovered he could ‘drill’ holes through the pumice with sticks. It was with this combination of simple and limited available materials that further inspired him to build his ‘discovery’ into a raft.
No one disturbed him from his intense concentration until the exciting stage of seeing if it would work- he had a captive audience. Testing it was a big part of the evaluation of the building materials and the design. The pumice to his surprise, floated wonderfully and the resulting raft provided much pride and accomplishment on his part. So much so, that he raced into the water after it fully clothed to retrieve it.
We were so close to rushing off to make it home in time for dinner, but this experience was well worth getting home late for…
Design Thinking Skills
The above scenario describes a child exhibiting very similar skills as a designer using the design process to innovate. A designer builds prototypes to evaluate an idea. Simple, quick mock-ups, communicating the way it works, how it looks, feels and the experience. Testing, getting feedback, evaluating, refining, are all part of the design process.
Do we underestimate what children are learning during play time?
How can we schedule ‘free time’ into our busy lives?