Playful Learning: The Manuscript
It is hard for me to know how to begin this post—I have written it over and over again in my mind for the last year or so. I guess the best place for me to start is by saying, “I wrote a book!” I have tried not to mention it too early for fear of talking about it too much, but as the publication date comes closer, I can’t hold it in anymore, so here goes…
Let’s start from the beginning. Playful Learning started in June of 2008. It was right after I had made the decision to stop working and spend more time with the girls. It was a time that I had been looking forward to since my first daughter was born. While working, I often fantasized about what life as a SAHM would be like, and, of course, in my mind it seemed like it would be heaven on earth.
However, the transition from working outside the home to working inside the home was not as easy as I had anticipated. I realized that a lot of my identity was wrapped up in my career, and without “my work” to help me define who I was for myself, I felt a bit lost. I loved working in the field of education, I loved working with children, I loved working with teachers, and I loved working with families, so, although I was thrilled to finally be with the girls, I feared that I was leaving a big part of myself behind.
Then one morning while I was unpacking all of my beloved curriculum books from my office, trying to make space for them at home, I had a moment: I realized that I could still share in all of my favorite classroom projects, lessons, and activities, yet instead of doing them with other people’s children in a school environment, I could experience them with my own daughters at home. I had so many incredible and memorable experiences in the classroom with my students. Now, I would have the time to adapt and share my favorites with my own family, on our own time, in our own space. The idea seemed to blend everything that was important to me, and with a newly energized spirit, I set out to prepare for our new adventures together.
It was also during this time that I started to discover the wonderful women who have been pioneering the way in the world of blogging. While working in schools, I thought that blogs were a cutting-edge way to share information with parents about what was happening in the classroom (btw, I still do). I had no idea that there were so many incredible mothers who had created powerful online voices and who were making such a big difference in so many people’s lives. It was like a whole new world opened up for me when I discovered the work of women like Amanda Blake Soule, Meg McElwee, Blair Stocker, Gabrielle Blair, and Tsh Oxenreider (just to name a few), who were sharing their knowledge and experiences with the world so eloquently and creatively.
After spending months relishing this newly discovered media, I worked up enough courage to start a blog that I could call my own. I thought that it would be the perfect way for me to “keep my feet wet” in education while still being able to be home. I could document my experiences with the girls, and share what I had gained from my years of working in schools.
As some of you may know, starting a blog is a humbling experience. There was nothing more exciting than clicking “publish” on that first blog entry and nothing more deflating than having no one read it (for months). For the first six months of Playful Learning’s existence, I felt like I was writing to myself—into a cyber abyss. I contemplated giving up many times yet, slowly, blog post by blog post, I started to find myself, my niche, my purpose, and a wonderful community of readers (thank you!). Playful Learning became a creative outlet for me and a motivation to keep up the work I was doing with the girls. They became actively involved in not only the projects, but in creating the posts as well. As time went on, we started to find our voices together.
And then it happened, that one magical link that can change your path and lead you on a journey that you did not anticipate. In January of 2009 Soule Mama posted a link to our twig book entry on her “loving” list, and her editor from Shambhala Publications happened to click on it (thank you Amanda!). In February I received one of those once-in-a-lifetime, scream-out-loud emails asking me if I would consider writing a book based on the Playful Learning blog. From that point on I have been researching, planning, experiencing, photographing, writing and revising a whole book full of playful learning experiences to share with you!
So here we are today—the manuscript is complete, and the book design is in its final stages and will be sent out for printing in the next couple of weeks. The publication date is set for August of 2011, and I am very excited about how it is coming together! Although I will try not to bore you with too many details, I do think it will be fun to share some behind-the-scenes tidbits as the process continues to unfold, so please stay tuned…
May your new year be full of unexpected possibilities!