Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Trustful Parenting"

Freedom to Learn , a blog at Psychology Today written by Peter Gray, has a three part post (more to come) about "trustful parenting" which starts with Trustful Parenting: Its Downfall and Potential Renaissance.

I have been reading Peter Gray's posts off and on for a while. What I love about his posts is the research he finds to support the importance of play in our children's lives. Since my children have never been to school, play has always been a huge part of our days.

Sophia would set up her PlayMobil using the entire living room. She would create different rooms in the PlayMobil house, different homes, different towns, etc. She made homes out of boxes, recyclables, scrap paper, clips of cloth, and more. Often the characters in her play would have very different lives than our own but it was fun for her to explore and live a different life through her toys. She also likes to become a part of the time period that fascinates her. For one and half years she wore only prairie dresses, boots and bonnets because that was the dress of Laura Ingalls Wilder. All of her play for that one and a half years revolved around pioneers. Then one day she was finished and moved on to the 1960's-70's and hippies. Her play and real life again revolved around this time period. Today, at 11 years old she is a writer. I believe much of her writing ability came from the time she was able to just be. To explore and see where it took her.

Here is Sophia at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Independence, KS. Sophia wanted to walk where Laura had walked.

Sophia's American Girl was originally a pioneer who became a protesting hippie. "Make love, not war."


Alexander always played differently than Sophia. For hours at a time he would draw out his own video game ideas and then explain each one to me in detail. He created wonderful Lego scenes with doors that would shut and lock, traps, and battery packs so his Lego's creations could move. He loves the problem solving that comes with building. Just yesterday, at 13, he wanted to make a wooden pistol like the one in the video game Red Fraction. He spent a few days drawing it out and making sure he had all the details and size he wanted, then he used graphite paper to transfer it onto the wood (something he learned in his wood carving class) and finally used his jigsaw to cut it out. He enjoys problem solving, making plans and drawing them out just like he does when he plays.


First he drew out the gun on paper.



Then on the wood.


Cuts it out.


And he has his own Red Faction gun.


I believe that part of being a "trustful parent" is trusting that your kids are learning, growing and becoming the type of person they are meant to be through play. At 13 and 11 years old when many kids their ages have stopped playing in order to follow busy schedules of music, sports, foreign languages, etc, Alexander and Sophia like to keep their schedule open enough that they can still play.....still imagine.

Play is very important, and kids should play as much as they can, after all
soon there will be work, subdivision bonds and bills. So let your kids be kids today!