Play On!

Play On! Evergreen SchoolWhy is play so important?  According to Marc Armitage, a British Playworker (more on that in a moment), play is natural, essential, spontaneous, environmentally-based and intrinsically motivating.  To a Montessorian’s ears, those are the characteristics of learning, too.  At Evergreen, we describe what happens in our classrooms the same way.  Work, play, learning and being are synonymous because each is a natural and essential aspect of life itself.

Three Evergreen faculty members, Toddler Teacher Jocelyn Basturescu, Programs Director Lourdes Barden-Sims and Head of School John DeMarchi attended a workshop led by Mr. Armitage at the Takoma Park Co-operative Nursery School in March.  His presentation, titled “Keep Calm and Play On” reinforced Evergreen’s commitment to the value of outdoor play.

Mr. Armitage takes play seriously. His business card says “Playworker.”  In the UK, that means he is hired to create and maintain spaces for children to play. You can think of him as a play scientist. And just like a Montessorian, the power of his profession comes from his careful observation of how children act and how they do and do not engage in play. Mr. Armitage is regularly contracted by governments, universities, research groups and schools through Europe and Scandinavia. He has been published in magazines, journals and books in English, Swedish and Dutch.

At the workshop, Mr. Armitage asked our faculty to recall their favorite childhood play spaces. Stop and think: What were yours?  Most adults identify natural, outdoor spaces filled with grass, rocks, trees and water.  At his presentation, participants called out their favorite places.  Their fondest recollections matched features of the Evergreen Rain Garden to a ‘T’: rocks, logs, stumps and tall grasses.  Our faculty was inspired by his presentation and enthusiastic about adding ‘loose parts’ elements in our outdoor play space.

As an advocate for play, Mr. Armitage recognizes the important cognitive growth that happens during play.  Play is learning. Social skills like compromise and advocacy are developed, along with gross motor skills like balance and coordination. Without abundant opportunities to play, children can never recognize their full potential.

In the words of Marc Armitage, “Keep Calm and Play On!”

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  1. January 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm

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