I talk a lot about spending time with your kids in together activities because we often don’t do that enough. I try to show you activities you can try with your little one.
Whilst I write about together activities too much of one thing isn’t good for anybody either. Allow your kids to free play without interference as well.
You be the Daddy and I’ll be the mummy this time. Ok?
Take this so you know what to do. No Daddy doesn’t do that. Wait I’ll show you.
“Boys- it’s time for dinner. You have to clean up” ( said in a pretend gruff voice)
Ok Daddy. < Cleaning up>
Do you remember the stories, dress ups, props you would gather with your friends for your production? How the story changed and evolved? You scrapped together ideas gleaned from books and your three collective imaginations. When was the last time you let your kids free play without direction or interruption?
I mean really let them play without you instructing them as well. Funnily enough you may have to teach how to do that by giving them short bursts of unstructured time if this is a new idea.
What’s unstructured time? Time where they get to choose their play. They follow an idea. They may involve you or be submersed in their own fantasy world. Having a lot of free play to a structured family where every moment is accounted for will mean an adjustment for everyone. They will say, ” I’m bored!” perhaps push a button or three because they don’t know what to do with themselves. But there will come a moment ……..really it does come, when they find something to do.
Then watch, watch without them seeing if you can, how involved they get in that play.
Free play allows them to make sense of all the inputs they have been receiving via books, media, family & friends. Watching their play gives you an insight into how they are thinking, feeling, and what they believe. It gives them a chance to try out, discard and adapt ideas in a safe environment.
For the many reasons( lack of recess, rampant fear of strangers, abundance of screen time, more formal preschools and early elementary, parents passion for not letting their child loose out to the competition by driving excellence in everything too far) in 2009 kids are not getting enough time to express themselves in free play.
Free play isn’t a waste of time. So many things are happening within that time if we were to just let it. I’m not an extremist so don’t advocate for allowing free play to get out of hand or remain unsupervised. Adjust for your family but don’t cut it out because of arbitrary reasons. But with the squeeze on free playtime so clearly evident I would encourage you to allow more time for this fundamental skill at home.
You may choose to promote this idea through centers of activity where they rotate through open ended activities; or read them a book under a sheet in the family room. Step away…………and allow them to free play.
Self motivation is a powerful tool to harness. An excellent way to promote growth in this area is through those three words, ” I’m bored!”
What free play have you overheard?