There have been many discussions in recent days concerning play in education. I don’t want to discuss the how’s and why’s of whether or not play is crucial to a child’s development. As a teacher and parent, I have witnessed its benefits.
The opportunity to pretend and create and have fun is vital to a child’s happiness and success. And today, with only seven days left in this crazy school year, I was reminded of this truth most surprisingly.
The end of a school year is challenging. Teachers are tired, students are stressed. Emotions run high. Particularly for students making transitions for next year. Oh yes, fifth graders. The last few weeks of school with these friends can be particularly challenging.
With that in mind, I tried to keep things simple. Give up some control. We have played rhythm games, bounced balls, hula hoops. There have even been a few rounds of hot potato and musical chairs. Sometimes things went well, other times…well, let’s just say no one was injured.
Today was a little more laid back. Students love to color, so there were music-themed coloring pages. Almost everyone in the class grabbed a paper. They quickly circled up around the basket of crayons and markers. That in itself caught my attention. They were laughing, talking, and sharing. They were playing.
It gets better. A few of the boys didn’t want to color. One asked if he could read a book. The other three were quietly talking. I noticed one of them lay down with his head underneath a chair. He said, “I’ll fix it.” Strange, I didn’t know it was broken.
Suddenly, all three boys were on the floor, heads under the chairs. I called my reading friend over and asked what they were doing. “Oh, they’re fixing cars,” he said. I watched more closely. One was “on the phone” with a customer. They were talking back and forth, mentioning specific types of cars.
Then it hit me. These boys are playing pretend! Fifth-grade boys are pretending to run an auto shop in the back of the music room. Wow! They needed time to play. And I needed to be reminded that they are still kids.