Recently, I cleaned out a very messy cupboard which has piles of printed materials from my childcare studies. Buried in one pile was my copy of “Educators My Time, Our Place”. As is my way, I stopped the cleaning and began reading which was surprisingly enjoyable and very helpful, too. In particular, I found page 37, which included a section on “Rough and tumble play” to be worth discussing with others. Now, apart from hiring Sumo suits for a Vacation Care activity, I would have to say, that I have not worked in an OSHC service where this kind of play is encouraged or allowed.
After reading a little more on this topic, I began to question why this is so? Why are educators so afraid of allowing this kind of play? My answer to this question is that I do not want children getting hurt by other children who do not have great self-control. I’ve never allowed it because I think it could get out of hand very quickly and, as educators, it is our role to keep children safe. As well as this, there is generally a rule in OSHC’s about children keeping their hands and feet to themselves. In the case of rough and tumble play, this rule would have to be relaxed, which most educators would find difficult to do. And yet, if there are great benefits to children engaging in this kind of play, including building self-esteem and “learning to control their bodies and set limits”, should we be offering/allowing rough and tumble play to the children in our care, especially the boys, who seem to crave this kind of play?
Are we being (unwittingly) neglectful of the needs of some children when we shut down rough and tumble play? Do educators have the skills and/or confidence to run these activities which need to be closely supervised? A final thought is this: what if we routinely shut down play in Home Corner, which is an essential resource in all OSHC services? Is rough and tumble play as vital to some children as Home Corner and dramatic play is for others?
I would be interested to hear what you think about this. What do you do in your service with rough and tumble play?