Part of the same game

It's become a normal part of our day for parts of the garden to get blocked off for repairs by builders, recently there have been disagreements between the builders and the bikers who need to travel down down them. The other day, after several sessions of this stalemate we managed to come to a solution Builders: "The road's closed, you can't come this way."

Bikers: "I need to get down this road, my home's over there!"

Bu: "There's a crack in the road you can't come down"

Bi: "Tim, we can't drive down here but I really need to get over there"

T: "Sounds to me like there's some serious work happening: what's wrong?"

Bu: "There's a crack in the road we need to fix it"

T: "And how long will that take?" (this question really helps with sharing problems, give the children control over their time limits in turns)

Bu: "uh.... I think.... but, well it'll be about 5 hours" (they won't really take 5 hours)

T: "Ah, then we need a diversion!"

I ran in to get some chalk and explained briefly what I was about to do before starting to draw arrows along the ground for children to follow...

This is common in the way we work at FRHQ and is (unironically in this case) called scaffolding. The adult's role is to extend ideas introduced in play to open up new ideas and directions to children, to flow with the play and only directing it if problems are becoming apparent.

In the above example my part was not to tell the builders to move or the bikers to stay away from the road, they were all part of the same game... they just didn't realise it yet!

Once the arrows were down, I left the chalk out and let the activity carry on unhindered:

"Alright builders, let's get the bits and bobs done"

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One child drove on to the building site with his bike, the builders all turned and explained calmly that this was not allowed, the biker responded "Oh, I'm not in work today cos my baby's ill. S, Can you take my bike home? I've got some work to do" and promptly joined in.

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I watched the play expand and evolve, taking in new ideas and bringing different children into the mix. There were arrows drawn, cracks created and fixed, blocks marked with different names so we knew who had put it down... There was even a sojourn in the jungle (I am still unsure how that happened) and when the session came to a close the play was still in progress in one form or another around the garden.

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Building work continues to spring up around the garden but now it doesn't prove a big problem, everyone knows what the game is and get around as best they can

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