The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

From the Head of Junior School

Play is Flowing like a River

I have written previously about the benefits of play. I have shared how play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play helps with healthy brain development, it allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes with other children.

As they master their world, play helps children develop new skills that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency needed to face future challenges. When play is child driven, children practice decision-making skills, moving at their own pace, discovering their own areas of interest, and ultimately engaging fully in the passions they wish to pursue.

Many opportunities are presented to our boys at break time to engage in a range of play. Boys may choose ball games on the ovals, quiet time in the library, table tennis or to play in the pirate ship playground. For the past two weeks, the boys have been engaged in water play. They took it upon themselves to clear the stream bed of debris. They dug out the pool and cleared the banks of the stream. The boys then began carting water to the old water pump in the small buckets. Pouring the water down the spout, they began running water down the stream.

As the initial group of boys began the work, other boys became intrigued and joined the team. New methods to cart water were devised and more boys joined the group. Three days into the play experience over 50 boys were engaged each break time.

What I found most interesting about their play, was how boys from Year 1 to 5 worked and played brilliantly together. They didn't argue, they considered problems they were having in the movement of water or the creation of a dam and solved them. When given the challenge of how to use less water, they found a method to filter the water and cart it to the top of the stream to use it again.

Their play was self-directed and brought boys from every year level together in a calm, community play experience. Boys came together because it was fun. They stayed playing together because they learned to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School