Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Until The Children Are Finished

Our pallet house was built in the middle of the main walkway between our gate and the school's main entry. Not only that, but it's close enough to the swings that adults wanting to pass by must time it so that they don't get kicked by a swinger.

I know that I could exercise my executive power and simply dismantle the thing on my own one morning before the children arrive. I've even picked out a "better" spot to reassemble it. But, as I mentioned in the post about deconstructing our old pallets, when there's work to be done around the place, I'd really like for the kids to do it.

Unfortunately, the kids, for the most part, are satisfied with the current location. I've spoken to them individually and in groups about my desire to "move the house" because it's blocking the way. They listen to me, usually agreeing that it's been built in an awkward spot, but when it comes to moving it, they've pretty much universally given me some version of "maybe later."

Meanwhile, the play in and around the pallet house has continued to evolve, which probably explains the children's reluctance to mess with it. They're obviously still using it in it's present location to ask and answer their own questions. They're just not yet finished with it.

For instance, the long slope that usually serves as our walkway, and which is now blocked by the pallet house, is also an inviting grade down which to roll tires. The challenge has always been that such a long, well-used slope makes it highly likely that one of those runaway tires will run down a friend. This has usually meant that before rolling tires, the kids have had to erect some sort of barrier or recruit an adult to stand at the bottom of the hill to warn unwary children away and/or actually catch the tire before it mows someone down. The new pallet house, we've discovered, serves quite well for stopping the tires. The children playing inside the house when the tires strike it are calling the effect "earthquakes."

The pallet house is also being used for increasingly complicated dramatic play games that require not only social skills, but also an physical ability to move and play in a tight space. During these games, the children continue to "enlarge" the structure, adding parts (traffic cones, tires, wooden boards) as their games dictate.

And then there are a few children who still find the pallet house a worthy venue in which to challenge themselves physically, climbing onto the ramparts and jumping off, for example, often striving for dramatic landings that either evoke some sort of superhero-warrior or that are done for comedic effect.

At any given moment there are children exploring it and while many agree it should be moved, and even agree with my plans for where to move it, they are feeling no urge to actually undertake the project, even with my help.

There will come a day, maybe today, maybe a month from now, when the children will be finished using the pallet house for their educational purposes and then it will truly just be in the way. On that day, I expect, there will be a team motivated enough to re-locate it, but for now it's going to stand in the way until the children are finished answering their questions.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love all of the fun things on this playground! As a nanny, we only have a couple of nearby neighborhood parks to play in. They have a nice slide, but that's about it. The rest is just grass that is so swampy wet that we can rarely walk through it. There is nothing there to stimulate an imagination! I adore the playground in your pictures.