I have been lucky enough to participate in this semester´s” Play and Learn” -programme for children in the Okponglo area in Accra – Ghana. I had never heard of it before, and did not know what to expect, but it soon became the highlight of my week.
The children we work with are, as children usually are, very creative and innovative. The problem is, they just don’t know how to use it. This is something that we work with in Play and Learn, and it is also one of the things that I enjoy most. The children have so much unexplored potential, and once they get the chance to show it, they create wonderful things. They just need a little guidance to use all their creativity in their work.
It is very clear that the kids are not used to think creatively: They are used to recite, read and rehearse. We help them to use all this knowledge to think for themselves. We engage them in various debates and try to make them use their brains differently than how they are used to. This is interesting both for the children and for us, because we see how engaged they become and how many good thoughts and ideas they have once you get them thinking.
Another thing I love about Play and Learn is the way it combines the two most essential things in a child’s life: playing and learning. The children love to play, and that is as it should be. But when this also can be used to make them learn, it´s easier and more fun for both children and adults. The playing can also be used as a treat for good learning.
I hope more people will discover the joy of working with Play and Learn, and that when I go back to Norway after my exchange semester, the children will have many new Play and Learn-grown-ups to help them and play with them. It really is a meaningful experience.