Dr. Lomino in China: March 8
MARCH 8: Imagination Unlimited
I decided that today I would pay particular attention to the children’s play here in the Factory to see how it compares to Forest play. As the children arrive, they immediately begin running down the very long hallways. After all they’ve been sitting in a bus for at least half an hour, and their energy level is high! Breakfast is served shortly, and it is the usual orderly business of eatingboiled eggs, noodles and porridge. As they finish the children merge into several groups. I first observe the same play group that spends time together in the forest. They are older and when I watched them last week at the forest, they had formed a “family”—at least that’s what it appeared to be. Today it seems they are a family of dogs, with two of the children play fighting like puppies. They gently box each other while on all fours and jump about excitedly. Their “house” is a pile of leftover wood from the picket fencing that divides the Factory into activity areas. It is an area at the opposite end of the factory, away from the other children and from the noise. I’m sure this is a purposeful decision to have their own space away from the younger children. I was told several days ago that this same group of children live close to each other and have played together since they were very little. It is obvious that they are comfortable and enjoy each other’s company. I am certain their imaginative play has helped to bond them over a period of time, and they have also learned many important social skills.
Watching them today reminds me of our children at Wauhatchie. They also like to play families, but when they are playing animals, most decide to be cats rather than dogs. Interesting difference. It might have something to do with the fact that I seldom see cats here, at least not roaming about the streets. I’m quite sure cats are more common in America as pets than they are here.
I watched two teachers presenting their lessons to the children. These are the times when the age differences are very noticeable. Because some of the children are less than three years old and others are six, the spread is problematic for directed teaching. The younger children have such short attention spans that they have a difficult time sitting and paying attention which then makes it hard for the teachers to continue their instruction. One of my recommendations is that the younger children, particularly in the Factory, should be allowed to have unstructured play during these directed teaching times, or they should be given shorter activities that go along with the general theme. The Factory and Kindergarten are especially good places for age-groupings.
Today’s Insight: Children have fun in this large gray building, but it doesn’t involve as much imaginative play as the forest. This confirms my belief that nature with its openness, variety of colors and textures, sounds and smells, inspires the imagination like nowhere else!