“Play is a primary, indeed a primal, way that we learn to understand and experience the world around us” Ken Robinson

“Play is how children explore, discover, fail, succeed, socialize, and flourish. It is a fundamental element of the human condition. It’s the key to giving school children skills they need to succeed–skills like creativity, innovation, teamwork, focus, resilience, expressiveness, empathy, concentration, and executive function. Expert organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Centres for Disease Control agree that play and physical activity are critical foundations of childhood, academics, and future skills.”

At Margaret Hendry School we focus on the development of the Guy Claxton’s 7 Cs (creativity, collaboration, craftsmanship, communication, confidence, curiosity and commitment) to develop learners that are agile and have the skills to engage successfully and with confidence in new and unknown situation. Children have three play breaks each day, learn through an inquiry play-based pedagogy and project based learning approach and have access to a variety of loose parts to engage in free play in different and imaginative ways.

In addition to a variety of loose parts and equipment that are available in the outdoor learning areas each day, children have access to the Loose Parts Adventure Playground.  This is a space that allows children to initiate and direct their own play, to challenge themselves and persevere, to work collaboratively, to create, to innovate, to take risks. Children are encouraged to become assessors of risk as they make decisions about play, drawing on their understanding of their own physical and emotional capabilities to engage in certain tasks. We encourage our staff and children to be risk aware rather than risk averse. It is in this space of uncertainty where some of the greatest learning occurs.

The role of the supervising teacher is not to interrupt and interfere with children’s play cycle through asking questions and encroaching on the play space of a child or a group of children. It is to watch, monitor and offer wonderings to stretch and challenge thinking as appropriate.

Featured Media of our Loose Parts Playground:

'Margaret Hendry - Opening of the Loose Parts Playground' - ACT Government Facebook page, 26 February 2020

'Margaret Hendry - Opening of the Loose Parts Playground' - ACT Government Education website, 26 February 2020

Further reading:

A three-point plan for healthier kids: play, play and more play by Pasi Sahlberg

“Let the Children Play: Why more play will save our schools and help children thrive” by Pasi Sahlberg and Bill Doyle

Playing it up with loose parts, playpods, and adventure playgrounds.  Joan Almon, Editor

Marc Armitage – risky play, the play cycle and play theory.

Claire Warden – Nature Pedagogy

Educating Ruby: What our children really need to learn by Guy Claxton