Progressive educators at Manhattan Country School have long recognized the importance and championed the practice of child-directed play. At the MCS Farm, several free times are scheduled into the kids’ daily routine.
This week, the 9-10s class, like all classes visiting the Farm, took full advantage of their free time. Visiting with the animals in the barn, taking turns on the swing, tossing a football on the ball field, hiking to Thyme Hill to work on their fort and chatting on the front porch are just a few of the ways kids use this time. Providing time after a meal, a class or a job to create one’s own fun is vital to a child’s social-emotional growth. While teacher supervision is always provided, teacher creation and organization is not.
Affording kids time and space to explore, create, make mistakes and discover at their own pace provides invaluable life lessons. Some students may find themselves outside their comfort zone climbing a tree, jumping in the hay or even petting a cat. Others may experience these activities with ease. The MCS Farm has created a well-woven safety net just below the children’s feet. This encourages students to hold themselves responsible, while negotiating the landscape of the MCS Farm community with their classmates and teachers.