OBSERVATIONS · play stages · Waldorf Education

Play: A Young Child’s Work

“Isabelle, what is your job?” I asked my daughter last month.

She paused, “Play!”

She was right. Her job is to play. I’ve told her this over and over and over.  After over a year of hearing that her work is her play, she had internalized the concept.

* * * * *

I accompany Isabelle to almost all of the parent/child classes she attends. I try not to take on consulting jobs or make medical appointments on the two days a week she has class.  (When that’s been impossible to avoid, my mother or mother-in-law have accompanied her to school.) Last year I stayed very close to Isabelle at school since she was the second to youngest in the class.  She needed my help with a variety of things and therefore I didn’t engage in the “work” (e.g., baking or crafting) many of the other adults did while they were in class with their kids.

This year it’s a different story. Isabelle is the oldest child in her class. She enjoys working at the baker’s table helping her teacher make oatmeal and pretzels from scratch. She plays with a variety of toys independently in the classroom. Her teacher has noticed she’s about to go from parallel play stage to cooperative play stage. However, since the next oldest child is two and a half months younger than her, I’ve seen glimpses of associative play instead.

20131114-220041.jpgBut here’s how I know Isabelle is more engaged in playing this year.  I’ve been crafting this year.  I felted pumpkins and Indian corn for a harvest table and I even made a fall mobile, complete with beeswax-dipped leaves, today!

My husband saw the mobile this evening and asked, “Did Isabelle help you with that?”

“She helped me by not helping,” I said sarcastically. Then, after I thought about the reality of the situation and the fact that I didn’t like the words that had come out of my mouth, I changed my tune. “No, she didn’t. But that’s because she was playing while I was working.”

 * * * * *

I was buckling Isabelle into her car seat about 1 – 2 weeks ago. I asked her, “What’s Mommy’s job?” since I was curious what her response would be.  She motioned her hands like she was driving.

“Mommy is a driver?” I asked her?

“Yes!” she declared.

“Well, I suppose chauffeur is one of my many job titles.” Of course, it’s not the one I would’ve given myself, but she’s two!  For all I know she probably thinks I’m watching “Sesame Street” on my computer when I’m in here writing!

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