Toddler - Rough and Tumble Play

If you have been following this blog, you will remember that in our toddler room this year we have had a lot of boys.  Eleven boys and three girls currently.  That means, as an all female staff, we have had to try and understand the male brain if we are to exist in harmony.   It has been one of my goals to create a "Yes" space for all of the children in our room. What does that mean exactly?  Well, I wanted to examine rules, and room design and routines.  Why do we do it that way?  Is it working?  What are the children doing each day?  What do they want to learn?  Are the children happy?  Are the children frustrated?

One of the things we always have is an area (s) were the children can be physical.  We recently set up the foam climber.  One morning three little boys began using it and they found that the ramp part separated from the large block.  Maybe the velcro wasn't fastened properly but whatever the case, having the "crack"  created some epic rough and tumble play.

As a staff we recently enjoyed a couple workshops on rough and tumble play and boys.  We learned how important this type of play is for children.  One of the "rules" is that the rough and tumble play must be mutual with smiles on the faces.  If one wants to stop the play must stop.  When we started out with this little group of boys in September we had more of a zero tolerance for rough housing with each other.  We felt that their self-regulation was too immature and as well they had trouble discerning whether or not their playmate was actually having a good time!

However now they are 10 months older and we are feeling like they can communicate better in a rough and tumble scenario.

They proved they were ready on this particular morning.  The rough and tumble play consisted of jumping, yelling, body slamming, and jostling.

I sat just beyond the climber but I don't think I intervened in any way even once.

Sometimes when they jumped into the crack they might have jumped onto each other.  Lots of laughter ensued.


At one point a very young female toddler ventured into this rough and tumble zone.  I wondered how that would go, and as usual the toddlers amazed me in how they played around her.  They were well aware that she was there.

She tried her own jumping and then carried on her way.  She didn't hang around long, but I loved how she was respected by the rowdy boys.

They ended up their play by squeezing themselves into the shelves. 

I loved watching them use their bodies in such amazing ways.  I was proud of myself for staying out of their play and saying yes to them about their choice of play.  

It was good.


Here is an article by Michelle Tannock who facilitated the workshop for us.

Interested in reading more on rough and tumble play?  

My co-worker wrote about her experience of having rough and tumble play in their 3-5 room.

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