The Easiest Way to Encourage Play
Moments after I walk into the bathroom WHAM! the door slams painfully into my legs. A child bursts in, quickly followed by another, who are in the midst of a tearful dispute. I just want to use the bathroom for 2 seconds!! my brain screams but I take a breath and try to help navigate the complications of sharing a lego collection.
Five minutes later, with the door locked because I have now remembered the lesson to protect myself, I am trying again for a private moment when there is a knock at the door. I sigh audibly this time.
Why can't they just play nicely for a few minutes by themselves?
My twins are usually pretty good at playing together. I worked really hard to teach them independent play skills when they were younger. Lately, however, we have been struggling more.
At first I thought they were falling out of the routine because they are spending long days at school instead of playing. And there is absolutely some truth to this. Children do need time to play every day. It is one of my biggest hang ups about school. Right now, I think there is another issue.
Since school started I have been working hard to make sure that my kids still get read to every day, still have time to play every day, and still get fresh air and physical activity every day. They spend a little less time playing, but there is something they are missing even more.
There is a huge part of our homeschool preschool schedule that they are no longer getting daily - adventure.
During the week were are falling into a pattern. We read stories during breakfast, we walk to school, we walk home from school, we eat snack and chat, we play at the park, we play at home, we do homework, we eat dinner, and we go to bed. Every day.
Patterns aren't bad. Kids need schedule. Kids need routines. Frankly, I do too.
The problem is that true meaningful play and true meaningful learning need to be inspired by something.
We don't learn well in a vacuum. For instance, right now at school my kids are learning about plants. They brought home a worksheet on Friday where they were supposed to label the parts of the flower and color it in. Let's set aside the tedious nature of this busywork and pretend that they are actually learning something about flowers. It's October.
The nursery we walk by every morning has ceased to have flowers on display. Our attempts at a window garden have wilted and dyed. The ground is covered in leaves. There are no flowers. Why would my kids be interested in learning about flowers right now?
They dutifully labeled their flowers and colored them in, but there was no enthusiasm. My kids who do have a deep love of flowers would rather learn about leaves and pumpkins right now. Not flowers.
Learning has to be rooted in something. A good book. An interesting show. A curious experience. A fascinating place. Learning has to start with something that makes us wonder why and want to learn more.
If you believe this about learning and you believe that children learn best through play, then play too must have some inspiration.
As adults we know all too well that there are never enough hours in a day to do everything. I think it is important to put some of that adventure back into our weeks. Can you do one of these this week?
*Explore a new place. A new playground? A new shop?
*Find somewhere to run free. A beach? A field? A hill you can climb?
*Spend an afternoon at a museum. A children's museum or science museum?
It's that simple.
After a week of school we took a trip to the children's museum. There was a life sized fire truck to climb into and a pretend ship to sail. There were fun games to play and an area about different environments. My daughter kept returning to the Artic exhibit. Again and again she pulled me over to build igloos and try out snowshoes.
When we got home she found her collection of polar bears. She created an igloo cave for them to live in and snuggled them all up for bedtime. She pretended to ski into the living room and brought back food for them to eat. Then she wandered into the kitchen because she wanted me to help her look up what polar bears eat. After a somewhat horrifying conversation about eating seals, she treaded back to bring them fish.
I refreshed my cup of tea, went back to reading emails, and then went to the bathroom by myself.
Below you can access a FREE printable with 365 Ways to Play. One for every day of the new year. These are simple ways to make little moments every day and even routines and chores more fun.
Obviously we aren't going to spend all day every day gleefully laughing and smiling, but I hope these ideas will help add more fun to your new year.
Subscribe below and I'll send you this FREE printable. Print it out and hang in up somewhere handy for those moments when you need a little inspiration, need help surviving a rainy day, or just want to put a smile back into a crabby day.
The areas in this collection of play ideas include;
*Simple things to add to your playroom or play space
*Quick prep, minimal materials activities
*Short ways to interact playfully with your child
*Fun ways to play on the go
*Subscribe to the Bambini Newsletter (If you're already a subscriber - the printable is on its way to you now)
*Print out the FREE 365 Ways to Play
*Keep it handy for whenever you want play inspiration
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