"This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play."
-Alan Wilson Watts
Nothing makes my day like when a child at The Learning Center says: "Marsha, you're funny!" He or she isn't usually saying that because I just told them a joke. A child at The Learning Center would be saying this because I pride myself on being playful. At The Learning Center we recognize that if we want children to grow up to be resourceful, emotionally competent and confident they have to be given every opportunity to play creatively.
I was recently speaking to a parent of a kindergartner who attends a local private school. Her child is in school five days a week from 9:00am - 3:00pm. After school once or twice a week this child attends dance and swimming. After dinner this same child has a half hour of homework every day. The mom and dad seem to be experiencing as much stress as the child. Both parents work and both parents are completely devoted to the well-being of their child. Sound familiar? For many this is a typical description of today's family.
There is no simple answer as to how so many families got to this point of rushing, over programming, stressing and disconnecting from engaging as a family. More and more children are showing signs of significant anxiety. It would be easy to say that's what happens as kids get older. Nope! It has nothing to do with the ages and stages of children. Childhood is being invaded by electronics, not making time, and more and more parents who have become so distractible they are missing the cues and engagement their children need. How can we make changes? More importantly do we want to make changes?
I would be presumptuous to say I have the recipe to create the change. But I do know what children need. They need opportunities for creative play, a sense of security and strong positive relationships with adults. Creative play means something different to everyone. The universal ingredients for these needs are being able to be in the moment with a child, following their lead in play, really listening and watching what they are saying and doing, and knowing once this time passes it is gone. Life does not work on rewind.
Someone I know recently celebrated her sixtieth birthday. Her children came to her a few months before asking what she would like for her birthday. "A watch?" they asked. "A special spa day?" "No" she replied. "I want a shared experience with all of you," she explained. Imagine her surprise when she walked into her daughter and son-in-laws house thinking she was there to babysit. There sitting around the table in special shirts were all her children and their significant others. One even flew in from out of town. This "shared experience" turned out to be a slice of overnight camp! There was tie dying, glass designing, baking, lots of eating, and a camp fire and yes we all slept over at Camp Marsh! So much laughter, lots of play and very little distracting technology!
The power of creative play, creating strong interactive relationships, and a sense of security is part of what makes The Learning Center so unique. Today's parents and families have lots of pressures and distractions. More importantly today's parents and families have choices.... you have more than you know!
Questions? Comments? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org