April 19, 2022
In the woods
When are you at your most imaginative?
When you're poring over a problem, burning the midnight oil at your desk, or whilst your mind is elsewhere, wandering through woods, drifting along the beach or in the moments before you fall asleep?
For us, it is always the latter.
Our brains don't work harder when they're strained, but rather when they're utilising the additional processing power available by being relaxed.
For us, this is one of the most incredible things about well designed imaginative adventure play. It fires the imagination and helps you think more clearly and learn more quickly.
When we went out to schools to talk about play recently, we set a competition to design some imaginative play. These are the results from Cockfield Primary School in Bishop Auckland.
In Sweden and Denmark, the compulsory school age is six years old. In Finland, it's seven. They allow children to play more before they start learning. Our own Creative Lead, Freddie Egan lives in Sweden and loves the system.
"It takes the pressure off the children. They still have at least ten years in education, but forcing them into formal education too early doesn't make a nation brighter or more productive - probably quite the opposite. We can see that in the differences between the UK and Scandinavia. Sweden has a GDP per capita that is 43% greater than the UK and they work shorter hours - for Swedes, time to relax and recharge is every bit as important as time at their desk."
There's another figure that economists use, which is the Human Development Index. It combines loads of factors to see how productive a country is. Sweden (4th), Denmark (=13th), Finland (=13th) and Iceland (2nd), all of whom have a similar approach to education, relaxation and play, beat the G7 countries' average. The UK is just below this in 14th place.
That's a lot more stats than we normally use in our posts, but the thinking behind it is very much at the heart of our designs.
We design our play to enable and encourage imagination.
Great play is not only huge fun, but it's also quietly training your brain to be a better rational thinker and at the same time encouraging essential life skills in socialisation, physical fitness and relaxation.
We love adventure play. In fact, we love it so much, that we do it for a living.
But without particularly planning it, we've also created a business that is extremely devolved. We do have a workshop. But only those who need to be in the workshop go there. Most of the rest of us work mainly from home and when needed go on-site at the workshop or with clients.
It allows us that time to relax, be more productive and create imaginative designs that children and families will love playing in together.
So, next time you look at the play and think. "It's great seeing the kids having fun like that." Add to your thinking that you spending time playing with them in well designed imaginative play, will help both their personal development and your own too.