Experimenting With Mirrors (The First Time)….and other thoughts…

I found a mirror in a charity shop the other day, and decided to bring it home for some experimental play.

Lately I’ve seen lots of ‘mirror play’, based on Emilio Reggio education – and it made me curious…

So I set up some curved rainbow blocks, and some rainbow bamboo blocks, to see what would happen…..

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As an adult, I found the mirror with the blocks, fascinating, and relaxing to play around with. The children? They ignored it! All, funnily enough, except Leon (almost 13), who, like myself, found it fascinating and relaxing, to mess about with….

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In fact, because of Ted opening a tin of brightly coloured craft items nearby, these became part of the ‘play’, and made it even more fascinating…. Leon amused himself, and me, by making up a ‘land’ of different scenarios…

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It was lovely to see Leon enter this world of make believe – even if just to see him re-enter a piece of childhood he has almost left behind – and even if he was just having a little bit of silly fun, telling a silly story, about a teddybears’ picnic with over-sized grapes, a crab and a strange looking snowman, and a hairdressers with an advert outside, etc… 🙂

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However, what I wondered to myself was, why did the younger children, specifically Ted, ignore it? Perhaps it was the wrong time of day – after school, the mad rush of kids coming home, and dinner being made (interestingly Leon hadn’t been in school this day) – or perhaps it was exactly that they had been in a ‘busy’ atmosphere, and this makes it more difficult to ‘relax’ and ‘let go’? Or perhaps it just didn’t look interesting enough?!

I often see wonderful and visually appealing activities set out for kids, usually with natural objects, such as pinecones, coloured glass disks, and wooden pieces. I love them. And so do many adults. There’s a sense of ‘peace’ in them.

But what about the children? Are these just activities we ‘set up’ because they appeal to us, and help us get away from that feeling of ‘too much’ and ‘plastic’ and ‘video games’ – and general ‘over stimulus’ that we worry children suffer from nowadays (and too many do) ?

Or are they activities that appeal to certain children at certain ages? I felt sure that Maya, and even Alfie, both who have enjoyed (and still do enjoy) creating fantasy worlds, and playing with small, unusual items would have at least pondered over this. Ted, on the other hand, may just not be this kind of person – he needs to move, and likes to be outside, and have lots of messy sensory play – or perhaps it’s just a little too ‘early’ for him? But Leon was a surprise! 😉 Perhaps it was the sense of relaxation that drew him to it – in this time of copious testing in schools (don’t believe what they say about Swedish schools not testing children – it’s not true!) – rather like an adult’s need to ‘lose themselves’.

Then again, I wonder to myself, is it because it was set up by an adult? You see, I’m all for playing with open-ended ‘toys’ – my kids have spent many many hours playing with stones, sticks, tiny pieces of coloured glass, can pulls, etc, etc – but the difference is – they invent this play themselves – it’s their world, their play, and it means something to them – it’s not ‘invented FOR them’. After all, children are born with the most amazing imaginations, and unquenchable creativity – why do we then try to ‘provide’ them with it? I’m not criticising – I’m merely fascinated….why do we do this? Does it help us, as adults, or them, as children?

I, like many other adults, love the look of these set ups, and enjoy setting them up – and I will continue to do so – mainly, in fact, because I am fascinated to see what the children will do – the very thing that attracts me to education, particularly in the early years, before they become ‘moulded’ by convention.

Who knows? Perhaps it just wasn’t the right moment? 🙂

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