Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Play Is Better With "With"

I sat beside the block center, talking with a friend as she was beginning to build. We were talking about various things, both about what she was doing and about what had been happening in her life.

She placed various blocks, one on another, without a particular plan. She would place one and rearrange slightly and then place another. She put a triangle block on top of another and we watched it slide down the incline.

"That block just slid down the other one," I said. (I often narrate what I see, allowing the child to pick up the conversation if she chooses.) She nodded.

Then she knocked down what she was doing and looked up at me. "Would you build a park with me?" she asked.

"You can build it," I said, "and I will watch you."

STOP. Freeze the frame. Go back and read her question and my response again. What did she ask? What did I say?

Okay, let's start back up. I let those words filter through my brain quickly.

"I'll be glad to build with you," I said. I moved to the floor as she beamed up at me.

Now my first response was okay. I think it's important for children to do their own work and I will often say that they need to do things for themselves. I do not draw pictures for children or make things for them. I want to see their ideas and not my own - and they can work to produce what they want as well.

But in this case, my friend didn't want me to do something for her. She wanted me to do something WITH her. We had not interacted much lately and this building together was a way for us to has a social experience. I randomly stacked a few blocks as she built a slide and a swing. Then the swing morphed into the front gate. It wasn't long until she moved to play with a friend in our home center.

But I remembered that playing WITH someone is better - especially when you are 5 or 6 - than playing alone. Playing is as much a social learning time as any other learning time.

Besides, who doesn't enjoy cooperative block building. I need more of that in my life.

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