Updated: Jan 25
Letting a child free
Ever watched kids in a playgroup? Watch how the little plastic gardening set in the playgroup sandpit become hats. Or pirates’ treasure to bury in the sand. A skipping rope can become a snake, a hoola hoop - a tyre. Or, as you watch heart in mouth, they discover a slide can be climbed backwards, not only for sliding down!
In the Age of More, with so much of information and so many choices, our children learn how to navigate their lives, lives which are so different from ours.
Some channel a child's energy to learn better, faster, more, to equip them for the life they will lead. Another way, which we look at today, is encouraging a child to experiment.
Which one works better you and your child?
What is holistic learning?
Today, we are inundated and distracted with so much information and choices. So many restrictions, as well as so many new kinds of things that are considered important. In our world, it is not only important for our children to read and write early, they also have to be good at maths, play a music instrument or learn the ballet, a foreign language as well as a sport. Our children are shepherded from one teacher to another, all in the name of getting ahead and competing in the real world.
Sometimes all this exposure causes unhappiness, lack of focus and half-heartedness in their lives.
While on the other hand, there is an (old) new wave of learning through play, or helping the child build a meaningful connection with his world.
Play that is important for a child’s learning, development, confidence and wellbeing. It helps to build their confidence, understand about the world, develop social skills, language and communication and strengthens their physical skills.
There are two main types of play, unstructured play and structured play. Unstructured free play is unplanned play which often happen in playgrounds or during free time. This usually involves role-playing, making a spaceship out of cardboard boxes and even musical games. Unstructured free play is extremely important for toddlers as it helps to spark their creativity and imagination.
On the other hand, structured play is an organised play, planned games that happen on a fixed schedule and place.
Which is better? Both are needed in a child’s life
Whilst unstructured play is more child-led, structured play is adult-led, with a grown up leading what to do and how to play. Older children would definitely enjoy and benefit more from structured play time, where they learn the basics of football and teamwork, for instance.
While a younger child is free to learn how catching a football is not always as easy as kicking it. An age-appropriate football training for a younger child is very different, and more about building those hand-eye coordination at that age, as well as understanding weight, velocity and the connection between action and reaction.
Structure their play time
Some examples of structured play would be outdoor ball games, storytelling sessions or dance and music classes.
Adults also play a role in their child’s free play by engaging, interacting, communicating, explaining, demonstrating and observing.
Kicking a ball on the run, vs from a standing position. Height, distance, angles come into play when tossing a basketball. Even that red and blue make a beautiful purple, is a discovery when you see it from a child’s eye.
While at the same time, leave them free to discover their world, discover cause and effect even if it means you are left with water all over the floor, because the young scientist was learning about volumes and waves in his/her own manner.
Finding others who believe in the same things
When you believe in the power of free play and unstructured time in a young child’s life, you also need to find a school that encourages the same values. So that the child learns to thrive in a consistent environment, instead of a conflict between home and school.
When you assess a school do keep this in mind, ask those questions from the school, your choice will have a far reaching impact on your child.
Kitakids champions wholesome child-led learning in a collaborative culture of trust and awareness, carefully building meaningful connections and outcomes for all. The teachers at Kitakids are passionate about creating profoundly joyful education and care in a safe, unpressured and loving environment.
One of the ways is to provide children the freedom to learn through play. Kitakids practice play-based learning, taking a holistic approach to learning and development through play. At Kitakids, the children learn through both unstructured and structured play by engaging in fun activities using play dough, water play, role playing, music and dancing, drawing and so much more.
Kitakids January 2023 intake for Hartamas, Bangsar, KLCC and KL Sentral is currently open. All the pictures here, are on location in the different schools.