A Little Patch of Earth, a nonprofit preschool in Newhall, school officials announced Friday they plan to host the United Kingdom’s Pop-Up Adventure Play Workers for two workshops and children’s playtime Saturday and Sunday.
The play workers are currently embarking on their first annual tour of the United States, holding workshops for educators and parents encouraging child-directed play using everyday materials and hosting play events for children afterwards, according to a news release by Pop-Up Adventure Play.
“They’re kind of like rock stars in their country,” said Sally Swiatek, director of A Little Patch of Earth. “They are travelling and visiting art museums, schools and cities across the United States. They ‘pop up’ and bring a trailer filled with all of these very simple constructivist types of elements and set up a play park that is free and open to the public. Children of all ages come to these play spaces and just enjoy it without it being measured or judged.”
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The play workers’ first workshop, called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Play,” is designed for educators and professionals interested in learning why play is necessary and how it permeates all children’s learning, officials said.
The second workshop is called “The Amazing Benefits of Play” and is geared toward parents and the general public, providing an introductory look at the play movement and its benefits for children.
Both workshops require attendees to purchase tickets online, but the play areas that immediately follow the workshops are free and open to the public.
A Little Patch of Earth supports play and nature-based curriculum amidst the growing trends which require children to “produce, perform and conform” to learning practices “which are not always developmentally appropriate and which deny children the opportunity for self-directed, outdoor, physical and creative play,” according to a news release by the school.
“Play is really the best way for children to learn because it is their opportunity to use materials that inspire creativity and innovation,” Swiatek said. “Very simple, open-ended materials like tape, string, fabric and boxes have all kinds of possibilities for tinkering and construction. When children have the freedom to exercise those types of elements of play, it is actually developing their brains to do so much more than just understanding those materials. It’s inspiring them to innovate and collaborate with their peers, giving them the opportunity to explore materials in a way that is very meaningful to them.”
The play-based movement began in Europe, where seven countries have legislation that supports the child’s ‘right to play’ and funds research for this type of play, school officials said.
“The research is staggering because it’s showing that children really do learn from the program,” Swiatek said. “They become defined critical thinkers and innovators and know how to take risks. Those critical elements are really only found through play.”
“Kids learn things a lot more coherently when they are able to self-direct and move in a direction that their passions are taking them,” said Jeremiah Dockray, who co-founded a group called Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play with his wife, Erica Dockray, in support of the movement after their son began attending A Little Patch of Earth.
Pop-Up Adventure Play is a non-profit organization that works internationally to address the decline in opportunities for child-directed play through a practice-based training model and public play events using everyday materials called Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds, according to the news release.
Their cross-country tour began in early February in Pittsfield, Mass. and is scheduled to conclude in Boston, Mass. in mid-April.
“Because play is such a dying art in childhood, we feel that it is a movement that needs to be inspired and encouraged,” Swiatek said. “We’re really hoping our community embraces it because the movement is very critical.”
The workshop for professionals is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with the free adventure playground from 1-5 p.m., at Newhall Park, located at 24923 Newhall Avenue in Newhall. The workshop for the general public is scheduled for Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with the free adventure playground from 1-5 p.m., at A Little Patch of Earth Preschool, located at 24436 Valley Street in Newhall.
For more information about Pop-Up Adventure Play and ticket information, click here. For more information about A Little Patch of Earth, click here. For more information about SCV Adventure Play, click here.
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