I was about 20 years old. Only a year or so out of TAFE, having completed my Diploma, and I’d predominantly worked with preschoolers. When I was put in the toddler room for the year ahead, I was excited but a little nervous too. I was expecting the never ending routine of eating, changing, sleeping and comfort… but I don’t think I was really prepared for the way in which toddlers play.
For his whole young life, Tyler loved cars. As a toddler, he had his toy steering wheel in hand every time he was strapped into his car seat so he could help drive. When he was a bit older, a fell in love with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars–he had dozens and dozens of them.
Around seven to ten years old, children begin to learn outside of pretend play, sensory play, and exploratory play. They still play, but they also want to read, watch the world, and talk to others.
In my forest kindergarten the children are very big dragon slayers – building and fortifying their castles from dragon attack to looking for dragon tracks to actually (shudder) going to look for them in the dense woods, it is a huge group activity. Do I get involved? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that I do if I am needed to as part of the facilitation process.
As early childhood educators and teachers most of us love to get down and dirty and play. We love to be fully engaged with the kids, playing as if we were kids. What can be wrong with that? Why am I selective about these times?