I have had the pleasure of being around the junior area the past few lunchtimes. Today I was sitting in the sun, out of the wind, just watching the children playing on the adventure playground (and also cutting up paper so children could make horses’ tails, but that’s another story!).
It was such a joy. Lots of young children, running helter-skelter at full pace, all around the playground and up onto and around the equipment. It was like a microcosm of a town; full of people going about their business, circling in and touching the edge of others’ lives before wheeling away in another direction.
There were fairly equal numbers of boys and girls – children who circled in and around each other, sometimes interacting with someone, but mostly going about their own business – the business of playing.
As I watched, I saw the brave, fearless child race straight up to the top before swinging down and jumping quite a distance. I saw the focussed child trying over and over and over to master the wall, and finally succeeding. I saw children using the equipment in ways that the designer probably hadn’t thought of. I saw the child standing back and watching for a while before tentatively having a go. I saw children going one way along the bridge and meeting another group coming the other way. Was there an altercation? No, they simply worked out the best way to let each other past without needing words or negotiating skill.
I saw a child get down to help another child swing their leg up so they could climb onto the platform. Was there any thank you? No, just an unspoken acknowledgement of what had just happened. I saw little gangs of children shouting and all running in a group, obviously with a destination in mind. I saw children, both boys and girls, fall, some fell over gently, some had quite a tumble. Not one tear in sight, every one of them picked themselves up and carried on going about their business; the business of being a child.
Everywhere, children running and running, laughing and shouting. Not one iota of disharmony. Being resilient. Interacting beside and amongst each other with no hassles, no shouts of unfairness or tears because they were hurt, no frustration at not mastering something. Just being children and having fun.
I loved it because there was no adult input at all. The children didn’t need organising, nor did they need reminding to play nicely. There was no adult to see them fall over and rush to see if they were ok. No adult to go and tell a little tale to about unfairness or about imagined slights. The children were risk taking, were resilient, showed perseverance, co-operation. When left to play they were learning so much, but most of all, they were having fun. A reminder to all of us that we must let our children have fun without us hovering nearby. The world won’t end if we are not there to supervise or organise or remind, in fact I would hazard a guess that the children I watched today were very happy that no adult was there to do that.
Please close school gates
Finally, a security matter – can parents please ensure when they leave the school that they shut the gate behind them. Thank you for helping to keep our children safe.