My devotion to playing with children began many years ago, while I was working as a computer analyst/consultant. Over the years I developed the practice of Innate Play by being totally present moment-by-moment with children with whom I am playing, and have utilized it in many different environments. I play wherever children are: in trees, lawns, swimming pools and lakes, schoolyards, schoolrooms, and playgrounds

Being Truly Present to Child

More than thirty years ago I began to volunteer at a pre-school a couple of afternoons a week. After watching my interactions with children, the Supervisor asked me to work with children who had disruptive behavior and I agreed.  A two-and-a-half year old boy had killed two small kittens soon after birth and always responded to other children with aggression. He was not allowed to sit next to other children unless an adult was right sitting with them. This was an extreme case. It was painful for everyone to witness his aggression and manage his behavior. Many adults had turned away from him due to lack of time and understanding. I could tell that he had no control whatsoever over his aggression. Yet, just being with him and allowing him to lead me in innate play, led to a change in his relationship with himself and others.  

Behavior Shifts Organically

After being on the playground with him week after week, I observed that his behavior began to shift. One day while I was sitting with him around the table with the other children, he gently leaned his head on the shoulder of the child sitting next to him. Another day, he offered his crayons to the boy next to him and soon after I saw them laughing together. Up until this time, no one in the school had seen him interact in this way. One day he said to me, "My mama gives me bad love."  He then began to open up and talk about how he felt.

Surprising How Simple It Is

As I worked with these children, I found that all I needed to do was to be with the young people in whatever safe way they asked of me.  What I was learning from all the children while I played with them was so profound, along with the love, the sense of belonging, and respect that grew inside of me. I felt I had to keep sharing this gift of innate play with young people.

I create environments that allow children to restore the essence of who they are so they may resume their exploration and interactions with the world in the kindest, most intelligent, creative and loving manner of being with which they were born.  My hope is for all children to be able to experience fully the beauty and wonder of themselves.

How Eleanor Developed the
Practice of Innate Play