Facilitating Play

observing children

Observer. 🔍 The second role an adult plays to facilitate play. The quietest role. When you sit back and really watch children, you are carefully learning about them. You are intentionally studying who they are to inform your choices about how to better support them. .
Carving out time to stop teaching, to stop playing with them, to stop organizing our spaces, and to sit quietly off to the side, just to watch, just to listen, is as valuable as all the other ways we prepare and plan for the children in our lives.
Observe new children in your life to get to know them. Observe children you find are struggling. Observe children who aren’t connecting. Observe children to gather evidence of growth.
Observe children to inform changes to your own practices in your childcare center and classroom. Observe them to learn about you.
Educators, grab a clipboard, sit back, and just watch. What is something you’re hoping to find? What might surprise you? How do you ensure your observations are non-judgmental and are as unbiased as possible?
Parents, when you look closely what are you discovering about your children? What questions arise?
Our logo has a magnifying glass in it for a reason. Studying children, learning, and behavior are our life’s work. Join us 🔎💙

Third role adults play in facilitating play: stage manager

Often if you find a material inspiring, so will children. You may have dozens of items you bring out multiple times a year, every year because they are just so popular.

A powerful way to collaborate with the children in your life, is to interview them about what they think they need.

“You’ve been playing so much lately! What else do you think we could add that would make it even better?”

“If I found some tubes, do you think you might enjoy pouring water through them? I wonder what we would see!”

“I noticed lots of conversation at Big Blocks last week about roofs and how all of ours kept collapsing. So I brought these in. What do you think? What else might make our roofs stronger?”

facilitating play
facilitating play

The 4th role to facilitate play: tutor!

Some children need support to deepen their play skills.

We’ve all been there: a child is happily playing and you look over and think “oh no. That is going to fall!”

Many adults will immediately redirect the child and take the top blocks off. This violates the child’s creation, teaching them that what they built can be destroyed by us in an instant. It can break trust.

Some adults will tell the children to take the pieces off. This functions as exerting control in an attempt to keep them safe.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about how we can capitalize on this moment and be more intentional?

If a small group of 5 year olds (or older) have designed this structure you can quickly pause their work, have them come crouch down with you a few feet away from the block area and try, “I’m noticing you all were so good at building that your structure is wonderfully tall! I also wonder what else that might mean [insert *yikes* face here]”

This communicates you value their thinking AND want them to be intentional in how they analyze their work.

Together they can brainstorm with you solutions for avoiding getting hit if the tower falls, ways to re-engineer the base and sides for strength to prevent collapse (and slip in all those STEM vocab words!), or whether they should set a height limit (and now you have a whole math and writing moment to capitalize on!!)