The challenge of providing a child led, play based curriculum requires negotiating appropriate experiences and activities that follow the imagination and strength’s of some. Some children can self regulate and adapt to social situation or play constructively on their own, but challenging children really require their energy and ideas to be channeled. By suggesting activities or provide materials that get them thinking or provide a sense of wonder they take ownership and pride in their environment and draw others into the prosocial experience. By providing for children that are more active than others we are displaying equitable practice that uses the strengths and interests of some for the learning and enjoyment of all.
Enticing, well thought out playground setups are more likely to keep children focused when others are involved and there is a sufficient level of challenge. Some studies and said that children will add risk and challenge to their play to offset limited playground choices. – they will make unsafe choices and jump off things if we don’t provide alternatives – if they jump anyway let’s hope we have helped them gain the physical skills to land unharmed.
Although “Slow down and get down” is appropriate when you are wanting to bring children into small controlled groups, often the children you most need to be with are not drawn into this slower play. The hardest level of movement is to be still and asking more active children to stop or even slow down can be very difficult.
Teachers need to be involved in the play children create and be prepared for children to change the setups adults have provided, rather than have them move on to less desirable activities and behaviours, as teachers we need to show that we value children’s contributions to build self esteem and a sense of belonging that make s positive challenging children’s behaviours.
Two quotes from Magda Gerber “Let the child be the scriptwriter, the director and the actor in his own play” and “Observe more, do less. Do less, enjoy more.” These help me to believe that having patience and allowing children to develop in their own way and time are important parts of the child led curriculum puzzle.