Recently Susan and I traveled to Sacramento, California for a unique opportunity to learn from some lifelong advocates of play. Sitting right on the Placer County fairgrounds is the Roseville Community Preschool (RCP), made known by passionate play advocate Bev Bos in the 1960s.
Many years ago our own SYC mentors visited RCP for a very similar conference held by Bev and her son-in-law, Michael Leeman, the current director. Over the years SYC staff have viewed pictures and heard stories of their experience at the conference. SYC leaders formed lasting personal and professional relationships with both Bev and Michael, and even invited them to SYC one year to co-host an event advocating for play in our community. Sadly, Bev died in Feb 2016, before many of our current staff ever had a chance to meet her.
When Susan and I saw that this year they would hold a new conference we jumped at the chance to immerse ourselves in learning and playing with other like-minded professionals. We attended workshops on Peter Gray’s work on the value of play, and on the value of loose parts: materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways, materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. We also heard about the importance of creating a sense of belonging for all the children in your program, presented by Dan Hodgins.
We were given several opportunities to tour the preschool followed by an open discussion with the Roseville Preschool staff. It’s hard to put into words of the experience of entering the classroom. It was the feeling of joy, freedom, and creativity, and of being immersed in nature throughout the entire indoor and outdoor space. It was a place I wanted to stay in, to play in.
During the interactive conference we connected with other professionals from all over the country, sharing and learning from others who also passionately believe that play-based learning is what’s best for kids. Surrounding ourselves by this unique community has reignited our fire to carry the torch that Bev lit so many years ago, and that Jan Waters and Stephanie Rottmayer passed on to us. We can’t wait to share what we’ve seen with the rest of the SYC staff when we come back in the fall.
We’ve returned from California refreshed and even more confident that the work we do at SYC is the right work. We insist on creating a safe space for all kids, with opportunities for movement, creativity, and freedom. A place where kids want to stay and play.
We look forward to playing in September.
…Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director