I’m not a helicopter parent…or teacher.

I think I am more of a tank, or maybe a passenger train….

I don’t know what I am, but one thing I do know is that I enjoy play as much as children do. I especially enjoy spending time and engaging with my own children and the children I teach.

I personally believe in a 100% authentic child-led approach to early childhood, using play as the medium…..but I don’t believe we should miss out on all the fun either.

Imagine going to the beach, laying down on a beach towel, sprawling out and spending the next three hours just watching our kids from afar play in the sand – creating, experimenting, exploring…learning. How boring!

I sometimes think we’ve gone way too far in the anti-helicopter parent movement. We are now somehow presenting the message that parents AND teachers should just watch children from afar while they play, creating a culture of judgment should an adult actually want to become involved in children’s play. That’s not the message we should be sending – not at all.

Adults NEED to get involved in children’s play. We are their teachers, as much as the environment is. We just can’t make their play about us! I believe to achieve an authentic child-led approach to learning, adults play a necessary role in it. But that role takes skill, it takes patience, and it takes us questioning and reflecting on our intention sometimes.

What are we really wanting to get out of involving ourselves in children’s play? How are we going to involve ourselves, and what are our end goals? I ask myself those questions anytime I become involved in children’s play, and the answers for me are generally:

What am I really wanting to get out of involving myself in their play? An opportunity to let them take the lead, to open myself up to the possibility that I may not know everything and they may not want me to tell them everything. A chance to get a glimpse into the mind of a child, how they develop their working theories and use critical thinking to solve problems by themselves.

How am I going to involve myself? Carefully, tactfully. I won’t be loud and overbearing, or intrusive. I will be respectful, I will ask, and if they so no I’ll respect it and kindly remove myself! If they say yes, I will involve myself by listening, watching, following and participating just as I would if I were 30 years younger.

What are my end goals? To be part of human connection and the learning experience of children who view every and all experiences they have as an opportunity to learn.

I am personally glad I am a passenger train….or a tank. I get to be a part of this gift that we have been given – that of a child becoming….whatever they want to be.

Posted by Garrett Kett

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