We LOVE pretend play and spend a lot of time developing play solutions (such as costumes, dens, play furniture....and more!) that support all kinds of play. But we are especially passionate about child led pretend play. So why is that?
The main reason is that play is the single most effective way for a young child to learn and develop important life skills. It offers countless opportunities for children to act out real life situations in the safe world of pretend! We call that world Fafunia. Where mistakes lead to giggles and disagreements are left in the toy box.
But play really is serious – and a lack of free play can affect children’s ability to learn and prosper later in life. Pretend play, in particular, has four primary areas of developmental impact:
Emotional – interacting through play will help children to understand their individuality and in that increase their self-esteem, pride and sense of accomplishment. It will also support their sense of purpose and help them gain resilience in different situations.
Intellectual – play practises negotiation, problem solving, storytelling and organising. It nourishes creativity and practical use of new knowledge. It even supports early numeracy!
Social – learning how to share with others, take turns and find meaning and joy in cooperation are very important life skills. Learning to control impulses and deal with disappointment will help them to cope with delayed gratification.
Physical – pretend play offers countless opportunities for children to develop their gross and finer motor skills as well as increasing their strength and coordination.
If you want to read more about the science of play, you can read our PLAY! magazine here.
What does that mean?
There are a lot of parenting philosophies, educational theories and pedagogy concepts around. They share similarities and they also differ a lot in their early learning approach.
To simplify and explain why Fafu is all about open ended play and child lead learning opportunities it is best to divide those ideas into two main groups of ideas:
Most of our current education system is based on controlling ideas because all curriculum's are based on them. It would be amazing if I could write with confidence that the controlling ideas are slowly fading away to make paths for more empowering ideas but sadly I can´t (lets hope that I can someday!).
The main reason why Tom and I are so committed to child lead learning and empowering ideas in early learning and parenting is the fact that its a "brain friendly" approach. Leading your own education, taking on challenges freely, spending a LOT of time playing, exploring and connecting is learning at its best.
It is a scientifically proven fact. We can all change the future of education if we take this idea seriously and use it when communicating and working with children. Lets do it!!
Early education is probably the most important level of education. It is the time in children‘s lives where they start building peer relationships and the foundation for the people they will become. It is also a vital time for brain development.
The development of our brain structure is based on two main factors; experience shapes the properties of our neurons (experience dependent plasticity) and there are distinct time windows during early development that shape brain function.
This means that while children play they are also organising their way of thought and how they acquire information and store it. They organise information based on the sensory stimulation that is associated with it and not the content of the information. The brain will then build systems of knowledge (neural networks) connecting together related information and enabling children to recall facts, evaluate circumstances, and solve problems.
The brain is designed to form memories as a survival strategy so that it can understand and predict an outcome of a possibly fatal situation. When threatened, the brain shifts into reactive mode and treats information as a short term resource for survival. But when children are relaxed and enjoy learning, the brain will reflect on the information and a real learning opportunity occurs.
This is why we all struggle with learning things that bore us. The brain reacts to boredom in the same way it reacts to stress and anxiety and fails to reflect on the information and store it long term. We need to engage children in a variety of sensory stimulation and offer them opportunities to explore, imagine, and create.