The last days of summer are quickly coming to an end, as I sit in dappled sunlight beneath the peach tree in my back yard, enjoying the last sticky sweet, slice of watermelon and contemplating the start of a new school year. Being a teacher and a mom is a brilliant combination. I get to spend my summers playing with my sons (who are now far too old to find that as cool as I do) and year after year they remind me how to playfully participate in the cacophony of summer. When summer is over I get to return to the best job in the world, where your children will provide the same ongoing reminders.
As adults, it's easy to get busy worrying over bills, dirty clothes and political soundbites and forget how to play. And when we do, children are ready to lend a willing hand to remind us how FUN the little things can be: suds in the sink, lady bugs on a leaf, a sprinkler splashing mud and water on new clothes. So what IS this natural human inclination toward frolic? How do children engage life through their senses and play, while adults sign up for pricey mindfulness retreats trying to recapture our former sense of wonder?
In our defense, we certainly weren't conditioned to appreciate our capacity to play and linger in the moment. We were conditioned to value a furrowed brow approach to labor in an ongoing pursuit of the next unattainable carrot on a string. But children work hard too (harder than me often) their work just looks differently: climbing and running, laughing and negotiating, walking and talking, building and tearing down. And the crazy part about it is they have FUN doing it! It's pretty amazing when we stop to admire it. So choosing this years studio research question was a piece of cake, or a slice of watermelon, I knew what I wanted to learn from the children and with the children.
What is the value of play in human development and how might sensory alertness be cultivated and maintained as we mature?
Additionally, how might we reignite our own sense of play, curiosity and experiential alertness within a Montessori school in which most of our educators are trained Montessorians, myself included, for whom play was never included in our training.
Most of all I am looking forward to joining the children and this community for a year of learning and FUN.