Last summer, we were on holidays in Italy and our three children aged 11, 13 and 14 headed straight for the playground. They are past the age where they play on swings, but they have learned that sometimes kids their age like to hang out there. They also learned that a few words can go a long way in communicating.
While my husband and I were enjoying a glass of rosé on the terrace of our rented bungalow, with a large pan of pasta simmering on the kitchen burner, the children came running up all talking at the same time “can we go to our friends’ house? They invited us for dinner? We just met them at the playground.”
We kind of said “yes, I suppose so…. what about the pasta…?” but they were gone, shouting their ten words of Italian with exaggerated enthusiasm.
Football works just as well, or beach ball… the main thing is that the children are left alone and ‘forced’ to communicate. The exchanges they have in those moments are more beneficial than 10 hours of classroom work with the best teacher on the planet.
Like everything, it’s a bit difficult in the beginning. They need to be encouraged. Naturally, some children have more outgoing personalities, others are more shy. If you can find a way to engineer it that they are sitting in a sandbox or on a swing or with a beach ball, next to some other children of the same age, give them an encouraging smile… and nip off to the car or something. Yes, I have done it many many times and it doesn’t always work, it’s not always easy to find the playground, etc but when you do find it and it works: then it’s fantastic and well worth the effort 😉
Do you have any similar experiences to share?