Day after day I am amazed and thrilled to see children using imitation in their play. Not that they are imitating each other, but that they are so clearly using play to understand real life experiences.
You have probably seen countless ‘doctor’ games, or midwife games as my daughter is into now (we had a midwife attending our homebirth earlier this year!). With the introduction of dolls to our classroom, alongside the real baby who comes along to school (my other daughter), naturally there has been elaborate baby related play. Just this morning, mid conversation with her friend, one child said “Oh, my baby is hungry”. She whipped up her shirt and positioned the baby. Then she continued the conversation.
Now, I understand that some people may be appalled by this, whilst others may think it great. However, it is part of the reality of life for this child. She is seeing a baby being nursed and she is understanding it through her play.
Several of the children went camping at the weekend (purely coincidental!). Through watching their play today it became apparent that these experiences had a great impact on the children. This morning they were building tents, cooking on a campfire and going on hikes!
I find this so satisfying to see. It constantly reminds me of the importance of play. Structured activities are wonderful but children also need time and space to work through play. It is such a wonderful tool that children have. I only wish it came so naturally to us as adults!