by Alix Tonsgard
Full disclosure: even though I was one of those children that danced barefoot in the rain and loved mucking about, on the day that my little guy had his trucks in the mud, standing outside was the last place that I wanted to be. It was not warm out, it was early, and I was not properly caffeinated. However, as I watched him play, I reminded myself how much I’d loved doing those things as a child. At DCM this intrinsic drive to answer “what would happen if I….” or “I wonder…” and to stimulate an exploration to understand the world is at the core of everything we do, reminding me that having these experiences in and outside of the Museum are so important.
I know some people wonder what the value of this type of play is. It’s that intrinsic motivation, that natural drive to explore and discover. Some might see a wet, muddy mess. What I saw in that moment was a little guy learning about the world – a child who saw something that sparked a question that stimulated his curiosity and ignited his need to seek out an answer to that question. This is scientific thinking at its finest! It is this type of intellectual engagement through hands-on exploration that makes learning meaningful.
Sometimes as adults we need to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and remind ourselves to slow down and be in the moment. Was there a mess to deal with after it was all said and done? Sure was, but a warm, soapy bath took care of it in a jiffy and the conversation around what took place in our mud exploration was priceless.
So today I challenge you to think of a memory of play from when you were a child. Do you let your child have those experiences? Maybe it’s time to push yourself outside of your comfort zone or channel your three-year-old self and get lost in the moment.
Read the full blog at dupagechildrens.org/blog.
Alix Tonsgard is an early learning specialist at the DuPage Children’s Museum.