Play is a word that every child dreams of hearing from their parents. All too often anymore, children aren’t allowed to “go play.” They are to sit and be quiet until they are told to go do something else. Play is a way of life for children and that’s the way it should always be.
In Bud Hunt’s, Centering on Essential Lenses, he describes that play is a discovery of freedom. Which is all the more true the more we look at it through the child’s lenses. The child is discovering opportunities through play and exploring new ways in which they have never been before. This is how a child develops the person within themselves. When Hunt talks about play, he includes his ideas of making and hacking an important part of play. He quotes, “That playing might require you to make something, or to hack something.” To me, he is exactly right. Children are the best learners when they are in a position to be the teacher. They make things happen in their play that some adults don’t even begin to think are possible. But give a child some time and space and they can hack anything into something great.
Often times when people thinking of hacking, they think negatively. But in this case, when we talk about hacking, it is about innovating and creating better ways to do something. In Logan LaPlante’s TED Talk, he mentions, “Hackers are innovators.” It is people creating ways to better the outcome of how things work. For children, it is giving them the opportunity to play and be happy. Laplante says, “When I grow up, I want to be happy.” Which should be something all people hope for. But this is so true. If people are passionate about something and are always learning about it and discovering new opportunities, odds are, they are happy. When a child is at play, they are happy. You can see it in everything they do. From their smile to their body language, to the verbal language they are using with their peers. Play is a part of life.
As a future educator, I believe strongly in the power of play. Purposeful play is developmentally appropriate and a significant element of any early childhood program. There is more to play than people realize. The hands-on interactions and communications skills are all being taught while they play. Children are the greatest hackers of play and can show anyone just how everything is to be done. They are the future of this world. And if we don’t give them to the opportunity to make, hack, and play at a young age, we are without a doubt with no future.