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Advocates For Play: Katie Adams

Updated: Jan 2

Hello, and welcome to the fourth and final interview in my second series of Advocates For Play. A series of blog interviews with play promoters around the world...

Introducing Katie Adams, mother to Annie and Maggie. Thank you for sharing an insight into your home education journey with your daughters.

Please introduce yourself, and your family.

Hello! My name is Katie. I live in a rural area of Missouri in the central part of the US. I am a stay at home mama to two sweet girls, Annie (3) and Maggie (1). My husband works as the Vice President for Student Life at Cottey College, an all-women, liberal arts college in our area. Before babies, I was a hospice and palliative care nurse and, who knows, someday I might go back to that. At this point in my life, my primary focus is home educating my children and doing my best to give them a slow, deliberate childhood where they are free to grow.

Can you share some of your own experiences of play as a child? Do you have an earliest play memory, or a story to share about play that was particularly meaningful?

My happiest memories of playing as a child were weekends spent at my grandparents' farm. My siblings and I had days of unstructured time and miles of land to roam and explore. Outside of the necessary rules for safety, we were free to do what we pleased. We made mud pies, built forts, and invented secret lands. We got lost, and found our way home again. We swam in the river, rode our bikes, and climbed the trees. There was no place where I felt braver, stronger, and more adventurous.

After my husband and I got married, we renovated and moved into my great-grandparents' old house on that very same farm. Now my girls will be able to grow up in the same place that had such a great impact on my childhood and who I am today.

Can you tell us about how you came to be an advocate for play? In what capacity does play feature in your life?

My passion for play really developed over the first couple of years in my journey as a parent. I slowly joined Facebook groups where I learned about different teaching philosophies and parenting styles. I devoured parenting books and blogs every night after my daughter went to bed. I became certain that I wanted to home educate and spent many hours exploring all of the homeschooling resources I could find.

Eventually, I became certain that fostering an environment where my daughters could learn through play was one of the most important things I could do for them. I am also a huge advocate for nature-based play. I believe that getting children outside everyday is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. The joy of my life is being home with my girls and watching them play and learn.

How would you describe your play philosophy?

Like Maria Montessori, I believe play is the work of the child. I feel that we should respect and protect the time that our children spend at play. I also believe that we, as parents and educators, have a responsibility to cultivate a play environment that is conducive to the needs of our individual children.

Who or what has influenced your perspective on play? Are there any books, blogs, Instagram accounts that you would recommend?

When I was first developing my perspective on play, I found a Facebook group called Wildschooling that made a huge impact on the way I viewed education. This was where I first heard of unschooling and it was my first exposure to a home educating community. Having been educated in a traditional public school setting, the idea was so incredibly new and foreign. However, there was something about the concept that really connected with me.

One day, someone in the Wildschooling group mentioned a curriculum that they used for nature study called Exploring Nature with Children. I researched and eventually purchased the curriculum and became a part of the associated online community. I learned about Invitations to Play and began following Rowan and her work. I also began to learn more about Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Montessori. I was inspired by forest schools, Wildschooling, and gentle parenting. Bits and pieces of each of these philosophies have provided the foundation for my perspective on play and education.

Some of the most impactful books that I have read:

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury