What an exciting time to be in the United Kingdom! There was Brexit, Wimbledon, the European Soccer Cup, and then there was TPS preschool teacher Pam Holland’s research work funded by the Sandra Dean Summer Fellowship.
Pam spent 10 days this summer traveling through England and Wales, visiting six different adventure playgrounds. Her goal was to observe the play movement that has been developing in western Europe since World War II and to determine if any elements might be added to our programs here at home. Pam saw a range of play spaces, from a commercial franchise called “Go Ape” to the rural, rugged “The Land” (about which an award-winning documentary was filmed.)
What stood out most to Pam was the public’s commitment to children and to the value of play. Many of the United Kingdom's adventure playgrounds are funded by the federal government and staffed with full-time, paid play-workers, all of whom have four-year university degrees. The demeanor of parents also stood out to Pam. As she watched a six-year-old child scramble to the top of a tall playground mast, Pam marveled at how unfazed and calm the parents were. They trusted their children to push physical limits and to explore new heights (literally!)
The trip might be over, but Pam’s research has just begun. She is looking forward to completing the course that will certify her as a play-worker. Pam and her TPS colleagues will view the documentary The Land and think about ways to incorporate the best elements into their work at TPS. And Pam plans to write a series of articles for school's weekly newsletter, "Progressive EDge," sharing even more of her insights and photos. Stay tuned for adventures at an adventure playground.