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Outdoor Play


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Had an e mail from a parent this morning who will be a new starter in Sept.

 

gist of it is:

 

Drove past this morning and saw some planks of wood outside - I know my little boy will see these as a prime play thing - will these be removed!

 

 

I have that sinking feeling that the education of parents regarding the benefits of outdoor play may be one which will "do me in" one day.

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I'm smiling and shaking my head. :o

I sometimes wonder what kind of childhood people had if they think playing in mud or with planks of wood is to be avoided. Best kind of play there is in my opinion.

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Dear Parent

 

I do indeeed hope your son will see the planks of wood as prime playthings, as this is why we have supplied them as a play and learning resource.

 

You are welcome to come to the setting and read our risk assessment, talk to staff about the value of play with loose parts, and indeeed join your son in experimenting with this new resource.

 

regards

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Perhaps she needs to be reassured that in your setting outdoor play is supervised and purposeful.

 

I have a friend who is horrified by the planks on my climbing frame because she feels that her boys would hit each other with them. In fact when children are playing with them I am involved in their play, developing it and supporting it with ideas and questions so they have far better things to do than wield them as weapons.

 

I guess that when this little boy plays in the garden at home he does so alone or with other children and, like lots of mums, she sees this as time to get some housework done or sit down with a cuppa. That's fine but one can understand that planks of wood may be undesirable in such a scenario.

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And what about staff who say "Put that down, you might hurt someone" when the children try to play with the plastic guttering in the construction area! I feel my needle might get stuck one day saying "but it's there for them to construct/explore/play with etc."

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Perhaps she needs to be reassured that in your setting outdoor play is supervised and purposeful.

 

I have a friend who is horrified by the planks on my climbing frame because she feels that her boys would hit each other with them. In fact when children are playing with them I am involved in their play, developing it and supporting it with ideas and questions so they have far better things to do than wield them as weapons.

 

I guess that when this little boy plays in the garden at home he does so alone or with other children and, like lots of mums, she sees this as time to get some housework done or sit down with a cuppa. That's fine but one can understand that planks of wood may be undesirable in such a scenario.

 

 

Quite so Upsy Daisy - I merely wished to point out that one gets weary sometimes of the education of parents to all of this, that the outdoor play message regardless of how many times it is in the press or parenting magazines doesn't get through.

 

The children are supported in their play using all the strange pieces of equipment we have in the garden so from that perspective she will learn that along with her son as and when the time comes. It was the tone of the e mail that made me want to "wither away".

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it always makes me look back when someone makes a comment like that.. to my own son who at 3 had access to all sorts of wood, nails, hammers saws and spent may a happy hour playing outside 'making' things... Grandad keeping an eye on him from a distance and he found he never had to intervene seems hitting your finger with a hammer once was enough to learn to be more careful...

 

I too had the staff who were constantly being over cautious with their supervision of the items and play - one was used to helping at school playtime and was always telling them not to roll down the hill on their sides, stop climbing the tree, be careful with xxx... never did get her stop... even when she saw me encouraging the play she would ask them to stop!

 

Hoping you will be able to educate another mum to let her child enjoy experimenting.

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Why would parents necessarily value the kind of play experiences offered by this kind of resource, unless they'd had the training that we've all had? We were discussing this on a training last week - we are probably now enrolling children in pre-school whose parents have never had the kind of outdoor childhoods that those of us of a certain age took for granted. Even in my childhood if I was playing in the kind of place where planks of wood were left lying around I was probably playing somewhere I shouldn't have been!

 

As Upsy Daisy says, there is a world of difference between supervised play with these kind of resources and leaving children to their own devices. Hopefully when your parent reads your erudite response about the value of this kind of play and how your fully engaged and experienced colleagues will be supporting her child's learning she'll be more than happy for her son to enjoy this opportunity in your lovely setting.

 

However sometimes you just have to let parents know where the lines in the sand are, and perhaps this is one of those issues that will always divide you and this parent. Better to have this conversation at this stage in your relationship so that she can find another setting whose ideas are more in line with hers!

 

Good luck - I'm sure you'll handle it with your usual good humour and great good sense! :o

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