No, today’s post isn’t about bullying- it really is about sticks and stones and creative play in children. We all know how important it is for children to have freedom in their dramatic play. We also know how crucial it is that they connect with the natural world around them. So when the time comes, and they’re slaying dragons with the bumpy stick they found, or moving rocks to make a path to get out of the lava- we parents get to sit back, and let them enjoy their world for a while, right?
Here’s my dilemma- in my years of childcare, I have seen children (on multiple occasions) fall and get stuck while running with a stick, accidentally (or sometimes willfully) whack their friend in the face with a stick, pinch their fingers under a rock, and on occasion, some gravel up a nose or in an ear. I find myself constantly redirecting the children, “Please throw the sticks over the fence!” and having to chase them down when they don’t want to. It’s near to impossible to keep the playground free of sticks, as we have lots of trees, and quite frankly- it breaks my heart to take away such a beautiful avenue for creativity!
In my mind’s eye, I have this amazing playground designed with all real materials- bricks, lumber, rocks, branches, tree stumps, tires, pvc pipes- you get the picture. It would be so inspiring to see what the kids create, but I know how quickly things can go sour, so I hold back. I have those things at home, and if Claire gets hurt using those manipulatives, then it’s on me- it’s my own kid. What do you all think as parents? Would you want your child to have access to those materials in their school, or do you feel it’s not worth the risk? I need your feedback, as spring is approaching, and we have some playgrounds to freshen up!