Yesterday, my husband sent me this article in the NYtimes knowing that I am a big fan of play-based education and free play.
Think about your own 10 best memories of childhood, and chances are most of them involve free play outdoors
When I say why I love play-based education, usually I refer to my own childhood playing, singing, drawing in my preschool. At home, I remember playing with my siblings and that we had a lot of animals: these silly gooses and those cute baby goats. I developed from that a passion for animals. But most importantly, I remember playing without any supervision. With my brother, we built a treehouse - so primitive that it just had a floor and a ladder.
But when I listen to my father and aunt about their childhood, I become very jealous. My grandparents had to run their hotel-restaurant, so the kids were free to play. They had a big territory at their disposition. My grandmother said to me that she does not even know what they were doing all day long.
My siblings were not my only playmates. Neighbors were a huge part of my outdoor play. My father helped me go to the neighbor backyard by raising me over the fence. We frequently alternated backyards for play among neighbors, such that some of us later became very good friends. Sure, some have moved out of the area just as I have, but I heard that most of us still remember those fun "playdates".
I was pleased to read about Mike Lanza and his focus on boys. As a father of three boys he has all the reasons for being focused on boy's education. My brother grew up with 2 younger sisters and he always had too much energy. My mother told me that he would do things you would never expect. Like tying his batman cape on the mezzanine railing and try to "fly." Or make a swing from a tire and attempting to then do acrobatics. He would have liked to climb on the roof as Mike Lanza's boys do.
I might glorify my childhood, but I am forever thankful to my family for giving the opportunity to explore the world - well at least our backyard. I still like the idea of growing and enjoying outdoor activities. I even miss it now that I spend more time home than outside.
When I decided to found my home-based preschool, I had a precise idea of how it should look like. My main concern was the backyard. I wanted to have a spacious one to give enough space for the kids to play, to have chickens and a vegetable garden. So I am lucky twice because, I found the perfect backyard and a huge cover deck: No more excuses to be inside kids!
In brief, one of my challenges today is to give kids enough freedom, yet stay within the daily licensing requirements... One licensor told me: "we do everything to protect those little ones and we forget that they need to fall."
It is the hardest part: trusting those little adventurers to help them living a happy childhood.