There’s a lot of er “play” happening here….

I’ve been thinking a lot about play recently. Well ok ever since I did the Lego Serious Play (LSP) course (and before that maybe) and particularly given that my living room and most of the house is covered in Lego and other things that denote “play has happened here” or is happening hear. And will be for a while! 22 weeks of being mainly in the house with four children aged between 4 (now 5) and 13 means a lot of play has been happening. And that has been one of the most fabulous things from lockdown, no school, few (ok no) commitments for months. Play. Writing this post I realise that each child engages in play differently. One of my children is amazing at leading games and play with the others. Whether it is teddy school or making Lego creations from TV shows they watch, her imagination is contagious. Another, absorbs herself in solo games, playing with Playmobil and Lego making endless scenes and activities. Another plays by tinkering (usually with things that he shouldn’t be!) fiddling around to see what happens if something is unscrewed or thrown or put in water etc. Even the 13, soon to be 14 year old, plays. A lot of that maybe on instagram or connecting with her friends, and I still find her drawing or fiddling around in the garden climbing a tree or rearranging her bedroom.

Den of play

Whilst for my children their play opportunities have increased in lockdown (as this 100 days post highlights), I am not sure I can say the same. I had been doing a lot of work with my team prior to lockdown using LSP, these opportunities evaporated with the move to online. I did attend a virtual meet up of LSP colleagues in HE which was great and then the sheer amount of work to do getting ready for September overwhelmed my play brain. In May, 64 million artists did a great lockdown creativity month of activities which I tried to complete with some success!) yet I mourned the loss of more formal play. Then I ran a session as part of the MAAP on playful learning, reconnected with Michael Rosen’s Book of Play and tried to think of new ways to bring play back into my work, including some of my teaching. I had a little more success in July as a colleague and I ran a session as part of the university’s development week on playful techniques. And then after quite a tiring week I logged into our team meeting to find a colleague in fancy dress and the whole thing made me laugh a lot. It was exactly what I needed after an intensive week. I realised that play can be anywhere and at any time. I think I often try to complicate things and look for the “perfect” opportunity to play or overthink the process. In that spirit I think recorded my vlog for the team meeting the next week in fancy dress. It may have been career limiting. It made me laugh though.

Playing with grass on a lazy afternoon

I guess my frustration is that so many of the challenges we are facing would work so well using more face-to-face play techniques. I can see how LSP would have helped so much with timetabling challenges or thinking about the things we need to do to get to September. However, it is pointless to think about what I could be doing rather than what I CAN do and I need to focus on that. I am going to set an intention to do one playful work related thing a week. Lets see how that goes. I need to remind myself of this: “play is central to life” (Huizinga (Homo Ludens, 1938) and at the moment, online working is central to my life so I need to see them not in opposition but connected. Lets see how my playful intentions work out…..

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