Missing out on play?

Juliet F

This half term was spent with a lovely bunch of ten children making up a collective story here at The Play House.  They ranged from seven years old to eleven and brought a host of wild and interesting ideas with them. It was sometimes a struggle to keep them all entertained.  I was amazed at how much they needed to just play – with ideas, situations, the drama space and each other.

It is making me think about working on relatively short projects and how much time we can give young people to ‘play’ without adult intervention.  Good quality small group drama demands a healthy dynamic and co operation but if you’re working with a group for just a few hours they need more time to develop these skills.

I’m often talking to teachers who mention that their children seem to lack imagination and I think some have often missed out on the chance to ‘act out’ and role play ideas, situations, characters and things they have imagined and seen.  It would be great to provide older children with more opportunities to do this in school.  But how?

The Play House has talked often of creating a multi sensory environment here at The Play House for children in Key Stage 2.  We have already created one for children in the Early Years with The Selkie Girl a few years ago.  That environment was crucial for children to understand the concept of the seaside in the Selkie story.  They played in a real wooden boat, collected shells and threw sand and none of this was particularly adult led.

I wonder what it would be like to offer older children that opportunity?  What environment would it be?  Should we work with even smaller groups and allow them lots of time to explore?  How would all of this impact on the drama?

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