What does unstructured play mean?
Some may interpret unstructured play as disorderly, unorganised, unregulated, without formal organisation or structure.
At sustainable Play Preschool we see ‘unstructured play’ as open-ended, as the most meaningful form of play for every child. Supporting children’s sense of agency allows them to choose their own path for learning, to learn about the things that are most important to them at that point in time.
“be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning” – Magda Gerber
I often think about the Magda Gerber quote “be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning”, this statement really resonates with us here at Sustainable Play Preschool and the flexible routine we offer really supports this way of learning.
While our service does follow a timeline for the day, mostly based around meal times, our children ultimately decide how the days run each and every day. By offering progressive meal times on our community dinning deck, children are not only provided with large blocks of uninterrupted time for exploration and learning but it enables children to self-regulate and eat when they feel they are hungry.
By keeping our doors open, children are able to choose the space in which they’d like to play, all while developing a sense of belonging and community within the whole preschool, not just their classroom. With our doors open, children are able to play in all kinds of weather, including the rain which provides children with another whole element of learning and exploration, not to mention FUN!
In implementing our bush kindy program, we hope that children develop a love for nature and the outdoors, in the bush children are provided with the opportunity to freely explore, to connect with and learn from nature and each other.
Outdoor play in nature is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, we know that playing outdoors allows children to develop their gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, proprioceptive and vestibular systems so we plan to engage in the outdoors as much as we can.
“Our regular Bush Kindy program allows for risk taking and exploration, promotes an attachment to nature and the land.” – Sustainable Play Preschool Family Handbook, Page. 8
I wonder what happens when… I wonder if…
Our educator’s wonder with children, they organise learning experience by planning for discoveries and we all know how the exhilaration of discovery feels. Children are provided with time to think and it is their curiosity that is driving their wonder and learning.
Children are independent, they are explorers, innovators, creators and leaders in the Sustainable Play Preschool world, all of these skills learnt by choosing their own pathways for learning.
“It is essential that the child discovers himself as much as possible. If we help him to solve every problem, we deprive him of exactly what his mental development is most important.” – Dr Emmi Pikler
From time to time we hear the age-old question, “what happens when they go to school?”
We send children to school with the exact skills they require to learn and actively participate in the classroom. Children who have participated in curriculum like ours are independent, they have the ability to engage in tasks for extended periods of time, they have appropriately developed core strength, balance and coordination and are some of the most creative individuals and problem solvers. All of these skills required not only for school but for life.
“Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.” – Dr. David Elkind