Lessons learnt through play with peers

Children can create little worlds of wonder and enrichment when given the opportunity.
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Children can create little worlds of wonder and enrichment when given the opportunity.

COMMENT: Last year, I met up with childhood school friends at my primary school's Golden Jubilee. What a wonderful time it was as I reflected on my early education, emotions and events. 

Although it wasn't always easy as an immigrant child finding my way with new peers in suburban Auckland in the 1970's, there were many valuable learning moments that assisted me with future friendships and life. The teachers played a role in my learning and development but I consider it was through the play and interactions I had with other children many lessons were truly learnt. 

Here are some snippets of those lessons:

I learnt from other children how to play, win and lose while playing Knuckle Bones, 4 – Square and Padder Tennis. 

With the example and encouragement of others I successfully jumped off very high equipment onto a bark laden playground with courage and independence. 

During group tasks writing and performing drama plays together I learnt to role play, problem solve while working collaboratively. 

Learning to interact with other children and negotiate were helpful skills to practise as we played games together, chose friends for sports' teams and decided who was going to wash or dry the teachers' morning tea cups.

Having the freedom, time and space to make up our own rules for our games which we could change as the games evolved and then evolved again. 

Learning to get along with others by having many opportunities to be social with other children. 

Through many trials and errors I learnt to notice others' needs in respectful ways while appropriately communicating my own. 

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Playing in mixed age groups was not only healthy for my well–being but also very helpful when I was a short child wanting to fly freely many times around a maypole horizontally to the ground.

As I reflect on these life lessons I learnt at primary school, I can see that it wasn't just the adults who were my teachers. Other children, my friends, taught me so much. We created our own little worlds of wonder and enrichment only because we were given the opportunities to. I am thankful for that. 

As we begin a new school year, let's consider a different interpretation to the common one when we hear 'It takes a village to raise a child' by not necessarily viewing it as mainly the adults who raise the children. It takes a village to raise a child since in a village because there are other children to play and learn alongside with. 

Diane McKinstry

REAL – coaching for parents & educators

diane@realparenting.co.nz 

 - Rodney Times

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