The Child at the Centre
This is the first in a series about my visit to China to learn about AnjiPlay... This and coming posts will be my process of sorting my thoughts and reflections of my experience and my interpretation os what i heard and saw. To learn more about AnjiPlay I recommend that you go direct to the source and learn from those in Anji actively engaged in this play focussed pedagogy.
True Play is not about children's free play... free play is outside an educational institution. This is very much about learning, but using play, true play as the means for children to explore and expand their thinking with their whole being.
I saw many links to my own theory of Original Learning, not least the fact that they define their approach with the words "love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection" - all words that are key in Original Learning - as well as wonder, curiosity, imagination, Interaction,
knowledge, time, and collaboration. In future posts I will be sharing more about these words and their importance in AnjiPlay.
The most important with the AnjiPlay approach is that the child is at the centre...
The Above is a series of circles that I have created to visualise the process as I have understood it... things might have been lost in translation.
But as I have said, the child is at the centre... and play is the language of children.
The educators first have to learn about the child... to observe. To have "open eyes, open ears, hands down and mouth closed" - in other words to take steps back from the child in order to fully understand the child and play. The teacher/adult take many films and photographs - and these are analysed to understand not only the child better, but also the learning that happens within the play. Not only the child's learning... the teacher also learns more about their own relationship with risk, with play, with their own attitude to the capabilities of the children - this knowledge enhances them as educators.
The analysis procedure enables the educators to make plans - to better prepare the environment, transitions etc in order to provide more space, time and access to the materials the children need for deep and true play...
The children are also involved in analysing their play - through drawing and dialogue (all of this I will go into more detail in future posts)
The parents are encouraged to come and play and enter dialogues and analyse their experiences... so that they better understand the true value of play - the community and policy makers are encouraged to do the same. This means the children are not in a preschool bubble of their own, but a part of the social ecosystem of preschool/kindergarten, parents, community and culture/context.
All of this allows the learning to happen.
There is structure and intention to the whole process... and this allows the learning to thrive.
The play is real, true and with their whole being. There is real risk, but not danger. There is distance in order to create space for the children's play but closeness through genuine relationships (love - the first and most essential principle of AnjiPlay).
I coming posts you will get to see the play equipment and play-spaces to enable whole body and whole being play.. individually, cooperatively and collaboratively.
The play has intention and allows the children to apply knowledge gained in one play experience to the next - which also helps them to deepen their knowledge of previous play... hence the arrows But for now, a few photos...