Learning With Loose Parts

There comes a time in one’s professional career that you question if there is still more to learn or do we know it all. After co-authoring the books in the Loose Parts: Inspiring series, writing Loose Parts for Children with Diverse Abilities published by Redleaf Press, researching the purpose and power of Loose Parts, and talking to different people, I thought I had it right and knew everything I needed to know. But, oh boy, was I mistaken. After listening to each speaker and delving deeper into their thought and intentionality, I have learned so much. More importantly, my perspective has shifted, and their ideas enhanced my Depth of Practice (DoP).

Learning is both a passion and a commitment. Learning also requires us to suspend our expertise and listen to the wisdom of others. When we are willing to let go of what we know and open our ears, heart, and mind, we begin to learn and thus increase our knowledge. When I listened to the different speakers who shared their expertise and knowledge for the Loose Parts Summit, I had to remind myself to let go of my thinking and belief and be fully open to listening without judgment. It was then that the golden nuggets became visible, and I was able to deepen my perspective on the meaning and power of Loose Parts. In this issue of the Playful Transformation Ezine, I hope to share what I learned from each presenter and how giving free rein to my curiosity and how this new knowledge strengthened my perspective.

Curiosity also helps us learn information we don’t consider all that interesting or important. When we know that our interest arouses our curiosity, we can start the journey of being lifelong learners.

The researchers at UC Davis found that when people’s curiosity is sparked, there is an increase in activity in the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in creating memories, and the brain circuit related to joy and pleasure.

As educators, we engage our own curiosity and are open to learning by following our interests; we start to value the power of sparking children’s curiosity. We can also let go of preconceived biases and judgments and listen to diverse perspectives that can help us grow and be more intentional in our practices.

We hope that you learn from the Loose Parts Method Course and that you take the time to ask questions that can continue to arouse your curiosity and make your practices more intentional.

Being curious and letting go also requires us to be vulnerable and dare to trust that we can grow and enhance our practices when we learn from others. Take the time to critically reflect and think about why we do what we will enrich your life and the lives of children and families. John Dewey argued that we do not learn from experience; instead, we learn from reflecting on the experience (Dewey, 1910). Critical Reflection leads us to move from duplicating what we see to generating new ideas and innovations. 

Since the Loose Parts: Inspiring Play release in 2014, many Loose Part groups have been created on social media. There are also some virtual courses designed and sold by people. It is outstanding the emerging interest in using Loose Parts to promote children’s play. However, we must also be cautious that we delve into the theories and research that support our practices. The Playful Transformation Loose Parts Method was created to enhance educators’ understanding of Loose Parts as unpredictable materials. The Loose Parts Method is based on the following principles:

1. Children have the right to play

2. Unpredictable materials enhance children’s play

3. Solid theory and research 

4. Culturally Responsive, equity and inclusion

5. A pedagogy of liberation