Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free Play is Free Will

"In 1903, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson were in their early 20s when they produced the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a backyard shed" (source: the History Channel's American Pickers).

If you stop for a moment to imagine the first Harley-Davidson shop, images of leaking oil cans, metal wrenches strewn on a dirt floor and sunbeams playing into a room full of dust come to mind. Creation, inspiration and perspiration. Free will.

Though not a motorcycle factory, here's a picture of my coffee table:

(Yes, there is a coffee table under there.) My son made this during a morning of free play. I don't know what this creation is all about, but I do know it's a pure expression of his free will.

He made the choices, and if his towers toppled over, he dealt with the consequences. I believe that if I took this free play time away from him, his stress level would skyrocket. And he'd have a tantrum. "The two most frequent indicators that children are stressed are change in behaviors and regression of behaviors" (source: NCCES).

There is talk about taking recess away from kindergarteners. Kindergarteners! When you don't give kids a chance to play, they freak out. And they lose the chance to experience free will.

Sometimes we get so concerned with cleaning up after our kids that we miss what they've created. We need to make sure our children have chances and opportunities to get to a point where they are comfortable enough exploring that they may just invent something. After all, if Harley's mother had said, "Stop fooling around in that shed," we'd be missing an entire part of our culture. And Harley would have missed the chance to feel the power of play.

© play101blog.blogspot.com, 2011-2012

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