To the uninitiated, play is simply the term given to children mucking around. Unstructured or ‘free’ play may not be so much a lost activity, but it certainly is a significantly diminished one. With the increasing sanitisation of the play experience by well-meaning adults, the opportunities for children to learn through play have been reduced. Play is how a child learns about risk, problem solving, consequences and getting along with others. These learning experiences are arguably just as important as the traditional learning experiences schools provide children.
Today, what we do at Swanson School is simply encourage free play to happen at break times. We do this by minimising the influence of adults in the play experience, and by challenging some long held beliefs. In the playground children can be seen to be building huts, riding every wheeled contraption that exists all over the school, climbing trees, play fighting, sliding down mudslides, using stair rails as monkey bars, or just lying in the long grass and talking.