There is a growing sentiment among parents to let kids be kids. What does it mean?
One interpretation might be that as adults, one of our jobs is to protect a child's space and time so they are able to play freely. To follow their curiosity wherever it may lead. But what type of play do we, as adults, impose upon children? After all, we purchase most of the materials that children play with!
Maria Montessori had this to say about play: "Play is the work of the child." In other words, children learn and grow through play.
But Montessori also observed that children enjoyed play based in reality, and were happier when invited to play with real materials that produced real results. For example, brooms that actually sweep or water pitchers that actually serve water. Montessori observed that when given the choice, children preferred play that involved moments of concentration, engagement and discovery, not chaotic, no-holds-barred behavior.
She remarks in The Discovery of the Child that "The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music."
Observe your child the next time they are playing independently or with a friend! What do you see? And more importantly, how can you protect and support your child's learning through play?