Because unsupervised free play is nature’s way of teaching us the skills we need as adults – the skills of cooperation, making and enforcing rules, compromise, negotiating conflicts, accepting defeat, children have been dependent on others to regulate them. More and more they have become “other directed.” It is no surprise then that during the days of self-quarantine, when schools, playgrounds and other recreational activities were shut down, children were subject to the emotional stresses of having to find their own way. Their self-direction having had little chance of development failed them when they needed it most. This is a book for teachers and parents as well who seek to develop such self-directed, “can-do” children.
Selma Wassermann is professor emerita in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and holder of the University Award for Teaching Excellence.
Section I: Building Blocks of the Can-Do Child
Chapter 1: Developing Personal Power Roots of the Power-Control Theory
Chapter 2: Building Blocks of Empowerment: Respect for Children and Their Choices
Chapter 3: Building Blocks of Empowerment: Active Learning Experiences that Genuinely Challenge Thinking
Chapter 4: Building Blocks of Empowerment: Creative, Unsupervised Play In Support of Play The Play’s the Thing Conclusion
Section II: Applications of the theories to Practice
Chapter 5: Introduction to the Activities
Chapter 6: Debriefing: Using Interactions that Promote Reflection
Chapter 7: Serious Players: The Arts
Chapter 8: Serious Players: Language Arts
Chapter 9: Serious Players: Social Studies
Chapter 10: Serious Players: Science
Chapter 11: Serious Players: Math
Chapter 12: Serious Players: Moral and Ethical Dilemmas
Section III : Epilogue
Chapter 13 : What’s Important?
The Play’s the Thing is a sheer joy to read and brim full of practical ideas for parents and teachers who strive to boost the confidence of children as think-for-themselves, can-do people. As a long-time teacher, I know that the routine use of “play-debrief-replay” transforms the learning environment from one of sit-still, meaningless tasks to one of experimentation, creativity and yes, powerful free play. This book is a teacher’s professional development of the highest order.
Imagine a classroom environment where young learners’ choices, thoughts and feelings are respected, and where they are happily engaged in hands on, minds on play activities that develop self-direction, confidence, higher level thinking, knowledge, skills, creativity, and a love of learning. Who wouldn’t want this for the children in their lives? All of this can become a reality with thanks to the inspiring examples of rich play and supportive interactions modelled within this wonderful book. The Play’s The Thing is a must read for teachers and parents who dream of such learning opportunities for their children.
Inspiring! Selma Wassermann’s wonderful book will leave teachers and parents motivated to create rich play experiences for the children in their lives and to interact with them in attentive, respectful, and thought-provoking ways. Full of examples of active, “minds on” and “hands on” inquiries and interactions that challenge thinking, it is no wonder that young learners become increasingly self-directed, confident, curious, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and skilled problem solvers who love to learn and create. I cannot recommend The Play’s The Thing highly enough. Every primary teacher needs to have a copy of this inspiring book.
For educators and parents, especially in these current times, it is of critical important that promoting intellectual and emotional development in early childhood is addressed. Interactions that promote a child’s sense of empowerment, increase their ability to think critically and problem solve is essential. Children acquire these important skills through play. Powerful and accessible examples of play activities, conditions and interactions necessary to promote this growth are offered. This book is a “must read for educators, parents and others committed to becoming more skilled in promoting children’s intellectual and emotional growth.