#Play or #Parking4AllSeasons!

This afternoon, one of my favourite bloggers, Kristi Keery-Bishop, published a new post on “play.” As a Kindergarten educator that runs a play-based program, it’s no surprise that I’m a huge proponent of play … but not just in Kindergarten. I’ve blogged numerous times on “play” before, and could probably write many more posts on this topic, but this blog post is slightly different. As I mentioned in my comment on Kristi’s post, it’s actually Matthew Oldridge‘s tweet that inspired this post. 

This made me think about the “challenging play” that I engage in every morning when I get to campbacking into a parking space. (Now before I go any further, I will say that driving is definitely not “play.” But as one of the first people to camp each day, the parking lot is almost empty, so I can safely “play” a bit, and work on improving my skills.)

It’s no big surprise to many of my blog readers, that “parking” is one of my favourite blogging topics. Usually it’s winter parking that gets me tweeting and blogging, but this summer, I found out that parking is a great topic for all seasons. In the past couple of months, my parking interests have evolved, and I’ve worked on learning how to reverse into a parking spot. While I’ve become fairly successful at home — with a bigger space to reverse into — I’ve yet to have success at school. This has been my summer goal. And to meet this goal, I continue to “play.” 

I’m very thoughtful in how I engage in this play. 

  • First I pull into the parking lot, and I determine a good spot. 
  • Then I check to ensure that the area is clear for reversing.
  • And then the “play” begins.

While I know how to pull into the spot ahead of me and reverse all the way back, I’m really determined to learn the “adult way” of reversing into a spot. This has meant a lot of trying, making mistakes, and trying again. 

      • When I don’t quite make it in, I engage in an internal monologue about where I went wrong, and if I need to move more to the left or more to the right.

    • I try to use some landmarks the next day to get into the spot with fewer attempts. 
    • Initially, I was just happy to make it into the spot. Now I’ve challenged myself to park straighter … and not spill my coffee as I remove everything from the car.

  • One day, I was thrilled to actually reverse into a spot beside another car, and while I was in the lines, getting things in and out of the backseat was a challenge … so the next day, I moved to a spot on my own. 

While this “parking play” may not seem particularly challenging to many people, I can assure you that every morning I’m challenged. When I see one or two other people there, I feel the additional challenge of an audience watching me park. This has been a great reminder for me that what I may find “challenging play,” others may not. We all need our different ways to be challenged. 

It really is the fun that I get from posting a parking tweet and making it into a spot that drives me to engage in this play each day. (I may even let out a little cry of “Yes!!” when I meet with success. 🙂 ) Imagine if we all chose to engage in some challenging play each day. Would this change how we view “play” and the learning that comes from it? I think that I may need to continue to embrace some #parking4allseasons! 🙂


6 thoughts on “#Play or #Parking4AllSeasons!

  1. A post about play AND parking – nice! We’ve discussed this before, but I think play is always purposeful, sometimes structured, sometimes goal-oriented, sometimes learning occurs and fun is one of the purposes. Whether fun is the primary or secondary purpose doesn’t change whether it is play or not. It worries me when people refer to play in an educational settings as “just play” and see it as wholly separate from learning. Yes, the k docs speak a lot about play and it’s value in that setting but I don’t think that means it is only for K. Play in the older grades can allow for engagement, differentiation (particular when unstructured or student-driven) and also learning and fun. I think maybe it is a shift in thinking about play and de-stigmatizing it for students, educators and parents.

    • I just want to “favourite” this comment and scream, “yes, yes, yes,” in response. I think you’ve perfectly summed up all of my thoughts on play, and said many things that I’ve been thinking, feeling, and/or expressing lately. (Sometimes it scares me how accurately you can read my mind.) So here comes the harder question: how do we get this message out there — not just for K, but for all grades?


  2. The pd doc of this play is awesome. Your mom will love to see the documentation….
    Ha ha. The parking master!

  3. This is great that so many people are talking about play — I am also really interested in what play looks like in the junior classroom — specifically around math. The concept of play, as you have discussed with your parking experiences (that was my new year’s resolution, btw — to back in more!), the play comes from the reflection, the identification of what’s happening, and the end-goal of your play.
    My daughter is most engaged in play (she is 5), when she has a clear goal. If she sets up a grocery store in the play room, her goal then becomes to have as many shoppers as she can come through. Her play has focus, and for her, more sustainability.
    So, as per my thinking: How does the concept of play change as students and adults change? Grow? Learn? As you so intelligently said, play is different for all; how do we tap into that play, and then have students connect from it? Thank you for making me think!

    • Thanks for your comment here, Heidi! Lots of great questions (I LOVE hard questions) and opportunities for discussion. I’m wondering about your daughter. Does she benefit from this “end goal” because this is something that she’s determined she needs (on her own) or something that adults have always modelled or encouraged her to think about? Recently, I’ve been thinking more and more about the adult role in play, and how we can change how students view play based on our own comfort or discomfort with it.

      I wonder if students and adults of all ages benefit from this play if given more opportunities to play … maybe with others around to ask questions and help extend the play as needed (or provide the next provocation). I think about when I taught Grades 5 and 6 and started exploring “play” in the junior classroom. It took a lot of time for me to get the students to be comfortable with play, and initially, it took a lot of time for me to be comfortable with it. I loved hands-on learning, but “free play” scared me. What was the purpose? When I realized that I could see the purpose, name the learning, and extend the learning by really observing children in action, I became more comfortable with it. Now have an amazing RECE partner that truly understands play and pushes me to consider its value even more, also helps. I wonder if educators of all ages would benefit from some inservicing by RECEs. Their knowledge of child development really helped me see things differently … and they facilitate play in a much different way than I do. I continue to learn so much. I wonder if we have to spread this learning. What do others think? Thanks for continuing this important discussion!


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