Eleven play conditions

When you take play out of the environment you don’t have a place where kids can grow to their optimum. Who would ever does that but we have?  But number one, if there’s a sense of belonging, knowing that you belong, knowing that you are accepted, more than attachment. 

Things to think about

Do children in your program know that they belong?
Does your teaching pay attention to the little details in each child?
The other play conditions are one of the ways Bev creates belonging in her school: Risk, Passion, Power, Presence, Productivity, Support, Solitude, Humor, Gratification, Deference, Mentors, Re-Seeding. Other play-qualities include: Trust and Complete Attention. What do each of these mean to you?

Highlights from Playful Wisdom
by Michael Mendizza featuring Bev Bos and Joseph Chilton Pearce

When we use the word play, we’re talking about nature’s means for learning. Play is the act of learning itself. It is the over-arching umbrella in which all learning takes place through all the developmental stages. Play with each stage of development involves different types of activity. The early child plays or learns in a very different way than the middle child plays and learns, and this is certainly different from the late child and adolescent. Each stage of development has its own block of intelligence and abilities which are opened and developed through play. Play is the way by which all learning takes place, how we build all of our response patterns in the world, how we build the very structure of knowledge of the world itself, how to get along in the world. All of this unfolds through play. Joseph Chilton Pearce

There are eleven conditions that I talk about that exist only in play.  I’m the only person I know that puts it together quite like that.  When I knew that there were gaps in what I knew about children or what I knew about living life and how you would grow to your optimum, I really studied with some really interesting people and while all of them had different ideas about this, what we need and how we grow and things like that, I finally figured out that when I looked at all of the stuff, all the stuff that I’d figured out, all the garbage that I filtered out, I had these eleven things and when I put a bracket around them, when I figured out there’s only one place that they all fit in and that’s in play.  And when you take then play out of the environment you don’t have a place where kids can grow to their optimum.  Well then of course who ever does that?  But number one, if there’s a sense of belonging, knowing that you belong, knowing that you are accepted, more than attachment.  A lot of people in education use the word attachment.  I like belonging.  That has to exist.  It’s almost a separate thing from all the other ten.  I belong here.  And you can’t put up a sign saying you belong here.  This is your school.  No.  Kids know if they belong and they know if they don’t.  one of my best stories about a little boy who came to the school, actually you met him, his name is Zander, he came to school and they were going to visit the school and he played for the two and a half hours.  He dug.  He hauled water.  He pumped.  He did everything he could do and his mother said, “It’s time to go now.”  And he said, “But it isn’t dark yet!”  And here’s this moment, he knew when he walked in that this was the place where he belonged.  And I think that kids feel that.  We had a little boy visit last week.  He just walked in and knew.  What frightens me is that I think there are children now who can come into this environment and not feel that way because they have no had no experience in their three or four years with the kinds of stuff that we have there.  They really don’t know what to do.  So belonging, knowing that you belong.  First to a family, then to a neighborhood, which has kind of disappeared, then to a community and then ultimately we have to understand that we all live on the same planet and that’s important.  The thing I’d like to say too is if you’d paid attention to the top four, first of all to that belonging, making sure that that always happens.  One of the things that I think about belonging is that one of the things I’ve done for all the 38 years that I’ve taught is I’ve always greeted every child at the door, every single day.  It doesn’t matter.  It’ doesn’t matter that I did it yesterday.  That is like that beginning stage of belonging. She’s here.  I’m paying attention.  You know that every single solitary day I didn’t even forget to do those things.  I think that there’s just that day when the kid is feeling out of sorts or sad on the way.  I tell this wonderful story about there was this little boy who used to come to the school and boy he was just, he was just really mad.  He’d get out of the car and he’d storm in, so one day I decided to do it a little different and I saw them drive up and I saw the look on his face and I went outside and I said to the momma, “Go have coffee” and I climbed in the car with the kid and I locked the door and I sat in there and I told him stories.  I told him funny things.  I didn’t expect him to talk to me.  I just told him funny stories.  I told him about the time that I pee’d in the confessional when I was little kid, I had to wait too long, I knew that they went to church and I knew he’d understand that and he laughed.  And I told him funny things that happened.  We just sat there.  He didn’t say much, after while he said, “Okay, let’s go in now.”  It got so that when they would drive up the mother would say, “You’d better go sit in the car for a few minutes.”  He’s one of four kids.  He just needed a little bit of time, a little bit of my energy.  Somebody said to me in a workshop, “Bev, how could you leave all the other kids and go sit with that kid?”  I’m doing it for the other kids.  I’m doing it for the other kids so that he doesn’t go in there and start bashing people or doing things that it’s not going to be any good for anybody.  So those little details are a part of belonging.  It’s different for every kid.  It’s a whole lot more than singing the more we get together, together, the more we get together the happier we’ll be.  That is the greatest lie of all.  He didn’t need to be with those other people.  He’s egocentric.  I’ve got to figure out how to help this kid feel like he belongs.  That a little part of me has to be with him at that moment.  It’s just a really important issue.  I think we talk about belonging but for me it has to be grounded in action for kids.  How do you figure out how kids belong?  By looking at what, after all these years having established this environment I’ve got things that almost everybody wants to do, but boy it takes a lot of thought and a lot of time to pay attention to individuals.  I always say every year, these kids are going to be unlike any other kid we’ve ever had.  I’ve got to figure out what belonging means for them.  We’ve always done it this way doesn’t cut it for kids.