I have two children of my own: Reagan is 3 and Nash is 7 months. Nash is getting mobile and is very active... exploring the world around him through touch, taste and movement. For the past three years, I’ve watched Reagan go through her own similar journey of exploring and understanding her world. One of my favorite things I’ve witnessed is her imaginative play.
I witness this same innocent imagination daily amongst the students at our school. However, the other day was one of those days that reaffirmed everything I believe and love about childhood. It was one of the first nice days in a while. The kids were so excited to be outside without a coat.
The warm weather meant everything was melting: a kid’s dream and an adult’s nightmare... mud everywhere! Each pocket of students had something different but equally imaginative going on. Two girls walked to the middle of a pond of ice. They were pretending they were in the Arctic and had to survive. There were sharks all around, but luckily they could speak polar bear, which helped immensely with their survival skills. Two other girls found a stream of melting ice going through the parking lot, and decided to build a miniature bridge for some miniature animals to cross. A group of boys found the muddiest mud they could, and they went to work building a dam. Everywhere I looked I saw imagination, innovation, cooperation, and joy.
So often we expect and accept imagination in our little ones, like my daughter. Then we think they grow out of it, and oftentimes we encourage them to grow out of it (whether intentionally or not). To see our students (ranging in age from 6-14) playing the same way I see my 3 year old play made me remember how important play is... mud and all!