Is our current education system, promoting play for all abilities?
I couldn't believe what I was hearing this morning...
When I encouraged Hugh to take his magic kit to school, so that he could play with like-minded friends, he was quick to tell me that his school now has a 'toy rule'.
A toy rule? What is that? Apparently, no children are to bring toys to school, including pens, drawing books, wool for finger knitting, magic kits, football cards, pokemon, etc.
Instead of interacting calmly with finger knitting, drawing books, board games, and magic, children are being encouraged to explore the outdoor environment, play on the sporting ovals, or climb the playground. That's great. I do definitely agree with encouraging that. But what activities are available for children like Hugh?
Without his magic kit, or football cards, Hugh is running around on the soccer oval without having the ball kicked to him, because his friends play competitive soccer outside of school, and with Hugh's gross motor challenges, Hugh is "too slow", and "too skinny", to be passed the soccer ball. His friends negotiation with Hugh for soccer, was that Hugh could be goalie.
Hugh has also tried to take his own basketball, and play basketball with his friends. But he tells me often, that an older child steals his basketball and gives it back to Hugh with only a few minutes left of play time.
Hugh's other option was to play in the sandpit with his friends from class. But with Hugh's sensory issues, Hugh doesn't enjoy the feeling of sand being thrown near him by other children who aren't playing appropriately in the sandpit.
So what is available for children like Hugh to play with, during play time?
Surely there could be a play space created, where children could bring their own activities that they enjoy, and share their toys with like-minded peers. This play space could be supervised by a staff member at play time. If children are playing inappropriately with their toys, then this can be managed on an individual basis, rather than punishing the children who are playing positively with their peers.
If there isn't a play space outdoors, then maybe one of the classrooms could be left open during play time, and the children who have brought along craft or magic activities to school, could interact with children from a range of different grade levels, while a staff member supervised the classroom. To ensure children still get the active play that their body needs, there could be 10 minute movement sessions each morning, as I still want to ensure Hugh is active every day.
I'm making my twins feel nervous this morning, by encouraging them to still take their wool and magic kit to school. Which is ridiculous that my children need to feel like that. I've sent a very polite, but very stern email to the principal, advising them that my twins have brought 'toys to school', but there needs to be a play solution for all children, and this is only the beginning of this story...