Summer months provides the perfect setting to bring out the boisterous side of children! In this blog post, our focus is helping to provide safety as children participate in a more rough-and-tumble manner during the warmer-weathered outdoor-inspiring season.
The summer weather draws children into nature, encouraging play such as rolling, running, climbing, chasing, tagging, falling, play-fighting, fleeing, wrestling, and acting out. This spontaneous or planned play may take place independently or with other children.
I believe that we must allow the refinement of controlling gross motor skills to develop into purposeful and controlled movements.
How can we keep rough-and-tumble play safe?
As an RECE, teacher, or assistant, you can use the three main factors to determine the appropriateness of the play.
One: Look at Facial Features
During acceptable rough-and-tumble play, children will be smiling or have relaxed facial features. When there is more aggressive play, the facial features of one or more children will be one of rigidity, stress, and controlled jaw lines. The expression will impart a grimace, a scowl, or starting.
Two: Collaboration versus Control
All children are participating willingly as their intention is to have fun; the context is one of teamwork and collaboration. In dissonance, one or more children use force to harm. The intention would then be to inflect pain, coerce, or control the other child(ren).
Three: Willingness to Play Together
When children are willing to return to the rough-and-tumble play repeatedly with the goal of extending the play, when they describe their play partners as friends, then it is a positive experience. When children flee the situation and refuse to play, especially when they name a particular person they do not want to play with, then they are avoiding inappropriate physical behaviour.
If we watch the faces of the children when they are playing and we see joy, then we can know it is healthy play that we are witnessing.
As a fun reminder of Wild Things, be encouraged to share this video reading of “Where the Wild Things Are”, by Maurice Sendak.
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