Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe

My Connections to Play

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Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens up to new possibilities.

– Stuart Brown,, MD,Contemporary American Psychiatrist

Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.

– Patricia G. Ramsey, Contemporary American educational psychologist

Reference:

The Strong (2015). Play Quotes. National Museum of Play. Retrieved from             http://www.museumofplay.org/education/education-and-play-resources/play-quotes

On weekends, at the break of dawn, I feel excited to wake up and explore the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun on my head when I climb trees and play hopscotch. It is so different when I wake up from Monday to Friday thinking I could be

red-gumamela-flower-82892_1280sick so I do not need to worry that I would be in trouble with my teachers if I do not answer the fraction problems correctly or identify the subject and verb agreement in an English sentence. I liked playing in my world where I discover that rocks can be used to wood-350145_1280draw and write on pavements, and flowers can color my cheeks and lips. I made “oil” out of Gumamela leaves that I pounded with a stone, used leaves as money, made drums with sticks and covered my nails with petals of flowers. I loved my days of freedom to choose, to explore and to create without being afraid to fail in my attempts.

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Growing up with five siblings who are just one to two years apart, we enjoyed our weekends, holidays and summers playing together. There was one condition that our mother asked us to do before playing – that we should do our assigned home chores. From washing the dishes to making our beds, we were all eager to finish our tasks to get on with our business – play. I remember my siblings and I collecting all the blankets and tying them up together, then we put them on our head imitating the peddlers that shout “Bili na ng kumot!” (blanket for sale). We collected broken jars from the garden so we can draw our hopscotch or play “teacher-student”. Our form of play was elevated to a sophisticated clubhouse that was built by our grandfather. He allowed us to pound the nails with a hammer and sand the planks that we used as walls and floor. It resembled a real nipa hut with a traditional kitchen and bedroom. Our mom allowed us to use the old kitchen utensils so we can cook in our playhouse. We mimicked the lifestyle of the farmers that we saw on TV. We dressed up in our grandfather’s old clothes and shoes. Our daily allowances were saved so we can go with our housekeeper to the market to buy our food to cook in the playhouse. We made fire with wood. Our grandfather taught us how to make fire. We were reminded to pour water in the charcoaled wood after cooking and before leaving our playhouse. We picked mangoes and starfruit from the trees to add to our playhouse meals. We learned life skills and how to practice safety habits as part of our play. Thanks to our mother and grandfather who trusted our skills and ability to problem solve, regulate ourselves, and to do things that people would think could be dangerous. It was fun!
Ironically, my daughter’s childhood was spent in the world of the concrete jungle. She did not have the big outdoor space where we lived when we were young. She did not have five siblings, nor children in the neighborhood to play with. Like many other children, she was confined in the house with her store-bought toys. Her play dates were organized and controlled – picnics at the beach, rides at the mall or bowling for kids at the entertainment square. This was my daughter’s world with her friends at least sixteen years ago. Fast forward to the world of our present children, they are glued to Ipads, compelled to attend structured activities such as painting and dancing after school and required to learn advanced math and reading skills from tutorial centers. From the time they wake up to go to their programs to the time they attend after school activities, these children go home with barely enough time to think of things they could choose to do. They get ready for supper and an hour or two later, would be bedtime. In those moments when children were engaged in organized and adult-initiated activities, did the children have the time to play with others and build friendships? Did they have opportunities to negotiate, assert their emotions, understand the feelings of others or even problem solve? It is my hope that as adults, we would give these children of the present generation a chance to be in an environment that they can explore, use their bodies for active play, discover their identities, and develop relationships where they could learn from and with each other. Through developmentally appropriate opportunities to develop cognitive, personal, social, emotional, mental, and physical aspects, children would have the intrinsic motivation to able to sustain their thirst to learn for life and be successful in their future.

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Author: pamcee70

My name is Pam Castillo. I have been in the field of education for 24 years now. Although I have taught some levels in grade school, I have spent most of my years teaching children aged two to six years old. I am always amazed by the interactions I have every day with children. In an environment where children feel safe, they are confident to explore and make discoveries. These experiences prepare them for the bigger challenges in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of the learning journey of these young children especially if they still come to see me and reminisce the years we worked together.

8 thoughts on “My Connections to Play

  1. Pam, you have nailed it! I loved reading your entry. Your examples were great as well and it saddens me that our next-now generation are not taking advantage of nature. Being a child and creating your own world during play was the highlight of my day. If we didn’t have a particular game, we used what we had and made it work. Hopscotch was the best while scrambling to find rocks, broken glass, or a pennt to use as our marker. Once again, great entry!

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  2. Great post!!! I think some parents are so in love with the invention of tablets and the other technology devices so their children can be confined in the house or behave in public places. Children should be exposed to the park and fresh air so they can engage with other children and laugh and play games. I have had parents who get upset if their children get dirt on their sneakers. I explain to them that children do not have to be dressed up for preschool they are going to get messy because they paint, play in sand, play in the water table and eat by themselves. Children learn through their own experiences and guidance.

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    • You are right Tomika. We have that experience too when parents get back to us and telling us that they would prefer their children to be clean when they get home. We do have some parents too who tell us not too worry about the stains they get on their clothes. This is the reason why we tell parents early on that their children would go home dirty and this would mean they had fun at school!

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  3. Wonderful post, I am also one of five children! Your childhood sounds wonderful and fun. I grew up playing outside with my brothers and what we found in nature was our toys. We would make outdoor forts and tree houses. If is was raining and we couldn’t go outside we would get every blanket in the house and a bedroom and sometimes front room and turn them into elaborate forts that we would spend hours playing in. I am lucky that my children have the environment that I had as a child. Places to explore and play and a wonderful neighborhood with kids to play with.
    Brandie

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    • Thank you Brandie. Space is really an important element of play. I hope that there will still be spaces for children to explore apart from the built-in playground equipment they use these days. I do recognize the use of those materials, but a place to discover nature would be a great one too.

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  4. Your right, everything is so structured and organized for kids to play these days. We have almost made it impossible for children to go outside and play and organize games for themselves. A group of my sons friends , they are 14, walked downtown where our playing fields are because they wanted to play kickball and they were told they couldn’t use the field unless they had permission for the parks and rec department and paid a user fee??? What? It wasn’t like that when I grew up, if there was an open field we used it.

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  5. Pam,
    I so enjoyed reading your post !! Terrific. Your childhood play seemed wonderful. I remember going fishing with my dad and sister, our mom waiting at home for the food to be cleaned and cooked for dinner. I also remember making little playhouses with our blankets, and having a tent night in our living room, once a week. The youth today, have their electronics, and do not truly play as we did. Due to this, I wonder what experiences they are missing out on.

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