The magic of the treehouse
The thing about a treehouse is that it's a secret place, a magical place.
It's where kids can explore and play away from grown-up eyes; it's unique; it's the setting for children to pretend and be creative; it's where they can make up their own stories or tell stories about their made-up worlds and adventures.
I don't follow kids into treehouses or secret places unless I have to—it feels too much like spying on your child who has an imagination as rich as yours—but I observe the magic they create when they emerge onto terra firma again with all manner of tales.
The magic of imaginative play—where kids use their own creativity to invent new worlds, communities, and games—is that it provides a space for them to be whoever they want to be. "It is exciting," says child psychologist Dr. Richard Woolfson, "because it's as if the child is performing on his or her own stage." As he explains: "Children have an innate desire to imagine and pretend, so when you let them loose in a treehouse, they can create their own worlds, and stories to match. For example, they can turn into knights, fairies, or pirates from a fairy-tale book. The treehouse is their castle in the sky."
Places for imaginative play don't have to be in an actual tree, either. For example, a den can be made from a cardboard box or blankets to give kids that exclusive space they want. Don't let the lack of yard or trees stop you from allowing your children this special space of their own.
I think the magic here is what children are finding in the play.
The magic here is what children are finding in the play. They are playing together cooperatively, using their imaginations, and exploring materials from nature. In this way, they are problem-solving both independently and collaboratively with peers. They are discovering parts of themselves without worrying about adult judgment. They find lessons we could never teach them—through play that spans their physical abilities and imaginations; through interactions with other kids who may not look like them or come from similar backgrounds; through the bond they build between themselves and Mother Nature.
In the treehouse, children can become anyone they want to be—and do anything they want to do. It's a place that gives them the space and freedom to learn about themselves, explore new ideas, and create their own stories. When you create a space for imaginative play in nature, your child will find something magical: the confidence to take on any challenge.
You can find all sorts of wonders if you're lucky enough to be invited inside.
The magic of a treehouse is found in the creative, imaginative play that happens within its walls. You never know what you're going to discover when you step inside.
Occasionally, if you earn their trust and are invited inside, an adult will get to experience this world as well. But I must warn you; if you go into this adventure with doubt or skepticism in your heart, it can be tricky to find your way back out again. It's easy for adults to dismiss the magical reality of children's imaginations by questioning their existence as "make-believe" or "just pretend." If this is how we approach imaginative play, then how could we possibly understand what our child sees in their mind's eye? When playing with children and listening to their stories about life on Mars or where unicorns live at night (and sometimes during the day), it can be tempting for us adults to brush aside these tales as nothing more than fantasies fueled by the childhood memories that still give us joy today. First, we ask ourselves: "Is there such a thing as magic?" And then we answer ourselves: "Of course not!"
But what if our first instinct was wrong? What if there is magic in the world? How would we know it exists if we don't listen to children and allow them to tell us about their adventures through space or underground kingdoms with trolls asking? So what can we learn from children willing to share their imaginations with us at any given moment? Well, for starters, how about opening up our minds (just a little bit) and seeing how much more fun
life can be when we all agree that sometimes, things are just magical. So here are some ways to jump into your child's world of imagination:
directions. For example, "What's the best way to get past those guards? Is there any magic that can help us avoid them?" is much better than "How did they get through guards if they didn't have magic?"
Instead of telling stories about what might be in a treehouse, we now watch children create their own stories.
Over the years, I've noticed a shift in how I view children's play over my years as an educator. Instead of telling stories and setting up things for children about what might be in a treehouse, I now watch children create their own stories. Leaving it open to their own creations. And it's beautiful! Children are building entire worlds with their imaginations, which can then be explored through pretend play for years. The benefits of this kind of unstructured play extend far beyond childhood development and into adulthood—a recent study showed that individuals who had engaged in more imaginative play as children scored higher on empathy and self-esteem as adults.
While it may appear as though they are just playing pretend, they are doing much more.
While it may appear as though they are just playing pretend they are doing much more. As children pretend to be a superhero or an explorer, they are practicing social skills and learning how to take turns and share. They also learn how to create and tell stories—and these stories go beyond the traditional "once upon a time" format: They often take place in imaginary worlds created by the child's imagination that include characters such as dragons, fairies, or superheroes.
Imaginative play allows children to make new connections and problem solve; it helps them regulate their emotions; it enhances creativity; it fosters language development (through storytelling); it increases knowledge of self; it allows children who have difficulty communicating verbally with others due to disabilities such as autism an opportunity for communication through their actions (i.e., actions speak louder than words).
When children are allowed to move freely throughout the space and have time to explore what they find there, they make connections, begin to understand patterns, and solve problems using tools and materials with which they may not have much or any experience.
When children are allowed to move freely throughout the space and have time to explore what they find there, they make connections, begin to understand patterns, and solve problems using tools and materials with which they may not have much or any experience. They learn from playing, not from being told what to do.
They learn through doing; if you want your child to learn something, let them do it! Children are natural learners who are curious about their world and eager for new experiences. One of the most critical aspects of early childhood education is learning how new things fit into an existing schema (or collection of knowledge) we already carry around in our heads—which explains why babies spend so much time looking at things like their hands or feet.
Babies aren't born with preconceptions about what "goes together" because they haven't yet learned any categories of knowledge that distinguish between things in different ways (e.g., "is it edible?"). In addition, babies start off knowing very little about the world around them, so everything feels fresh every time we look at it!
We like to observe without getting involved unless we are asked for help or see someone who needs something from us.
There is a difference between observing and imposing. You can watch the children and let them know you are there for them if they need help or see that someone needs something from you. We also like to observe without getting involved unless we are asked for help or see someone who needs something from us. For example, we have found that children often enjoy setting up their games, so we don't interfere unless they ask us to do so (such as if something is not working well). On the other hand, suppose a child asks us for help with something during playtime at the treehouse. In that case, we will be glad to give them suggestions on how best to approach a particular situation or problem they may have encountered in their game-playing experience.
We prefer not to give tasks/initiate activities ourselves because this could become disruptive; children's imaginations need room to run free and wild!
Children need room to roam around and follow their whims in an unstructured, imaginative way.
Unstructured play is an essential part of childhood. It allows children to act out their fantasies, explore the world and develop social skills. When a child plays freely, they learn how to make decisions, solve problems, and practice cooperation with others. They also gain confidence in themselves as they grow older.
When children are free to roam around and follow their whims in unstructured, imaginative play, they can be creative while having fun without being told what to do or how to behave by adults. This type of play has many benefits for kids:
Unstructured, imaginative play helps kids develop social skills
Children who engage in unstructured, imaginative play may have higher self-esteem than those who don't because they feel more confident when socializing with friends or family outside of school hours.
Leave room every day for unstructured play and allow the magic of childhood to inspire your learning, rather than trying to impose learning opportunities onto early learners.
As a parent and early childhood educator, I have seen the value of allowing children time for unstructured play. And so, I encourage my children to be creative when playing with each other or by themselves.
When we bring our children into nature, there are countless opportunities for them to explore and discover all that is around them. This can mean they spend hours climbing trees, digging in the dirt, or exploring under logs. But it can also mean sitting quietly on stones or leaves while watching bugs and birds fly around them—or even looking up at the clouds passing overhead! Allowing these moments of quiet reflection will enable children time to make their observations about what they see around them; this is where authentic learning occurs: when children make connections between their experiences and previous knowledge based on their observations or questions asked during this unstructured time playtime.
This is where authentic learning occurs: when children make connections between their experiences and previous knowledge based on their observations or questions asked during this unstructured time playtime.
When leaving the room every day for unstructured playtime in nature, allow your child(ren) freedom without imposing learning opportunities onto early learners who may not yet be able to understand concepts like cause-and-effect relationships; instead, open yourself up as an "observer" (this helps connect you emotionally with your child/children)