Play-Based Learning and Weekly Porch Chats
There are many ways to engage learners and spark the internal capacity for inquiry and creativity. With a larger-than-ever focus on learning and wellness, one of the ways that continue to attract more and more practitioners and proponents each day is Play-Based Learning (PBL). For those that would like to learn more about what PBL looks like and how universal it is, the weekly Porch Play Chats from the USA Chapter of the International Play Association might be the solution.
According to USA IPA President Deb Lawrence, researchers contend that play, or play-based learning, are critical aspects of childhood development. Indeed, she acknowledges that in this fast-paced and tech-centric world we live in, helping educators and parents recognize the importance of play is not only important but also critical to helping children reach their individual potential. These Porch Play Chats are a great way to do just that, according to Lawrence.
Porch Play Chats are 25-30 minute conversations featuring various guests from around the world sharing a diverse variety of play-based learning topics. These weekly conversations are co-hosted and facilitated by Lawrence and fellow USA IPA Member, Lisa Murphy. Lawrence emphasized that these chats are not presentations and do not include powerpoint-type slides.
“We want people to be able to pull it up and listen in the car,” said Lawrence. “In that way, it feels much more like a podcast.”
Porch Play Chats are produced four times a year, 12-15 conversations per season, but then released weekly on Mondays throughout the year. They are open to anyone and can be found on the IPA website, as well as on their Facebook page and YouTube Channel.
Although each week’s topic is unique, Lawrence said listeners will recognize common themes emerging. She said that is very powerful considering the guests represent very diverse walks of life. These include, but are not limited to therapists, adventure playground people, evolutionary ecologists, children’s museum curators, early childhood education practitioners, disabilities experts, and play therapists. Indeed, the guests have ranged in age from 22 – 70, according to Lawrence.
“We are always recruiting and finding others that are as passionate about play as we are,” said Lawrence.
Many school system and school site leaders are part of the network that participates in the Porch Play Chats guest facilitators.
Play-Based Learning Advocate and the Playmaker Institute’s Dr. Angie Nastovska Nastovska said that Porch Play Chats have been invigorating and inspirational to her on many levels.
“The diversity of the guests helps us to better understand the importance of play, the need for play in every aspect of life, and the benefits of play at every age,” she said. “These short and engaging conversations will leave any listener excited, energized, and motivated to contribute to the world of play.”
Lisa Latimer who serves on the IPA USA Board of Directors and is a School Site Director at iLEAD Agua Dulce, also guest hosts and facilitates often. She loves the diverse play-based community coming together.
“Play Porch Chats bring a community of like-minded people together to share inspiration and give valuable insight,” said Latimer.
Lawrence and her team are currently recruiting for October and beyond. They are looking for anyone that advocates for play and play-based learning. Lawrence said they are also focused on identifying the next generation of leaders.
“We are finding younger educators don’t have experience with play themselves,” said Lawrence. “Many had their formal education during the height of No Child Left Behind where we were minimizing or eliminating play.
Lawrence encourages all that could be interested to look at the Porch Chat Calendar from USA IPA. Additionally, she encourages anyone interested in play to consider becoming a USA IPA member where they can enjoy access to mini-grants, conferences, special events, and much more.
For Lawrence, the international community of play-based advocates is always working to remind any and all about the importance of play not just for children but for all learners: “Play is lifelong and an essential part of lifelong learning,” said Lawrence. “It has been undervalued in all age groups.”