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A Nurtured Life With Mariette Zoeppritz THE VALUE OF PLAY “Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child’s soul.” - Friedrich Fröbel I started my journey as a teacher when I first moved to New Zealand eight years ago by studying to become a primary school teacher. It was during my studies that I already decided I did not want to be a primary school teacher. Making children sit quietly for most of the day and doing activities that I had decided on did not sit well with me. It reminded me of all the things I did not enjoy about school myself when I was a child. So as soon as I finished my degree, I started working in early childhood teaching instead. I felt drawn to the idea of early childhood being more child-led, following the children’s interest and thus allowing them to be more fully themselves. My first experiences of working as an early childhood teacher were rather disillusioning, though. Mat-times, group activities, and preparation for school “lessons” had to be planned. The children only had little windows of time to do what they truly wanted. Again, I was left feeling that what I was doing was not in the best interest of the children. That there must be a better, more natural way to learn. After all, looking back on my own childhood, my favourite memories are of me and my sister playing for hours in the garden being fairies or creating mud pies. These are recollections of being happily and deeply engaged in what I was doing. Was there no value in those joyful recollections of play? Through studying early childhood teaching and finding an early childhood setting that shared my believes and values I learned how right my inner knowing had been. There was way more to play than just being happy memories. I began to see how play was the answer to what I had been looking for. 74

Issue #7 | The Inspired Guide | January 1st 2020

As Stuart Brown states “The truth is that play seems to be one of the most advanced methods nature has invented to allow a complex brain to create itself.” It is through the co-creative process of play that children learn, develop, and grow their brains – naturally and with ease. Children don’t decide to play because they want to learn something. The learning is an unavoidable by-product. Allowing children to fully immerse and lose themselves in their play without interruption or agenda gives them the most valuable, age-appropriate learning. As they play they learn how to learn. They build resilience and perseverance when things don’t work out as they had expected the first time around. They develop and expand their creativity, their imagination and their abstract thinking. Playing with others, they build social skills, learn to share their ideas and point of view as well as listening to, accepting and respecting the ideas, believes and points of views of others. They learn to share and to empathise. Playing in nature, children connect to Mother Earth, soak up knowledge about the seasons, the weather, animals and plants. It is through this connection they learn to love and later care for and protect nature and the environment. So how do we as adults support this kind of play? What is our role? After all, we want to do what is best for our children. I think it is time for us to step back, to create time and space for our children to lose themselves in their play without interference or interruption. It is also time for us to recognize that by doing this, we allow our children to develop into a balanced, centered, connected human being, prepared in mind, body, heart and soul for living a successful, meaningful life. Step back and observe their magic, their personality, their soul unfold!

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The Inspired Guide - Issue #7  

Read Issue #7 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

The Inspired Guide - Issue #7  

Read Issue #7 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

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