Ideas For Embracing Play Time
Child led play… your house is the toy!!!
The way in which children investigate and are curious about the world is spellbinding… I always marvelled at our two when we went on holiday how their play became so free, inspired by the environment not by toys we had accumulated at home. Changing the way you present/use your house and the stuff in it can make a really big difference to the way your children interact with it…
- Try to organise toys within reach and at the end of a play time get your little people to tidy. That way children can be more independent but also get satisfaction from knowing where THEY put things and can manage their own play.
- Try to have some creative things like crayons, paper, junk, scissors easily accessible as they will find all sorts of weird and wonderful things to do with them.
- Don’t stress about toys being used for the right purpose and being mixed up. If the Lego is in the play dough-that’s fine it can then be part of ‘productive play’ later (see below).
- Re-define ‘toys’ Look at your house through a kid’s eyes and (health and safety in mind of course) EVERYTHING is a toy!!!!:
- Empty a kitchen cupboard into the lounge and let your child investigate or develop a game with the pots and pans.
- Throw a sheet over the table, turn off the lights and give your child a torch,
- put water in the sink and some random objects by the side.
- Play somewhere different. Placing toys under the sofa or under the stairs can bring genuine joy!
- A room makeover and a re-organise is very satisfying, especially for those of us sick of the same four walls…
There is always so much to do as a parent. The great thing about imaginative little beings is that everything can become play, even the jobs you want to get done. Some of my friends would clean and get jobs done after bedtime. That’s commendable but exhausting, especially during lockdown.
When my kids were little, I’d clean the house in role play. Each was given a job (usually wiping with a damp flannel) and we pretended we were part of a cleaning company brought in to make our house shine. They loved it and I would do the ‘real’ cleaning around them. At Lunchtime they would be the waitresses and I would tell them how many places to lay and often we would have extra guests (teddies) who all had to be served too. When working at home I used to make my youngest a little play computer, simply made from an open book placed sideways. Sure, the novelty wears off but it’s a lovely way of engaging them in your world if you’re working remotely at the moment.
These were ways of me achieving what I wanted but also including my girls and supporting their development.
Playing with your child is wonderful and really valuable but independent play is also a hugely important part of your child’s development. It will help them to develop confidence in investigating the world on their own, to create their own realities, to struggle and make mistakes, but ultimately learn for themselves. Quite often I would support my children to begin a game, following their interests and then step away and allow them to take it to another place.
Have fun playing!