What is Playful Inquiry?
Remember the feeling of your own childhood play– when time disappeared. An hour went by in what felt like seconds because you were lost in your play, alert and alive in your wonderful ideas.
These play memories are powerful for most adults, and result from the deep and lasting learning that occurred within that play. In your play, you figured something out, worked something out, imagined something new, tested your own limits, connected with others, and likely experienced moments of unbridled joy.
Playful inquiry invites children to learn and make sense of the things they encounter with the kind of curiosity and joy we remember from our happiest moments in childhood.
From the time they are born, children are avid seekers of meaning and relationships who explore the world using all of their senses. Babies, like scientists, are some of the best learners in the universe (see The Scientist in the Crib by Gopnik, Meltzoff and Kuhl). Children have at their disposal myriad natural abilities such as noticing patterns, telling stories, tinkering, wondering and imagining. They come into the world pre-wired with these tools, and driven to use them to learn and to understand what's around them.
Rich in sensory detail, and intellectually rigorous, experiences in playful inquiry wire the brain with strong, complex pathways, while encouraging children to become lost in the power of play. This state of play relaxes the mind, but also keeps it highly challenged and engaged. Our most optimal state for learning occurs during playful inquiry.
Watch this video. What are you drawn to? What does it tell you about the role of play in learning? What does it tell you about your work with children? We're looking forward to reading your reflections and questions in the comments field below or the discussion forum.