Monday, August 3, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:16 PM
One day recently I sat down on the floor with my 22-month old son (okay I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it’s still true) and just hung out with him while he played. Every once in a while he handed me a toy and engaged me in play, but mostly I was able to just watch him play. I was truly amazed at the things I learned and was reminded of in that brief 30 minutes of down time.
The first thing I realized was how infrequently I just hang out with my children. When my daughter, now almost 4, was one I hung out with her while she played several times a week. Then I was working part time. Now I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom. But having more than one child, and often at least one in addition to my own, I had gotten into the habit of busying myself while the kids played. I would do activities with them, feed them, etc., but I had stopped hanging out with them.
Sitting on the floor of my son’s room I realized all that had been missed by not purposefully taking the time to just be with my children. First, I was missing out on the quality time that happens when we’re present with someone we love with no end or goal in mind. These special times silently build bonds that say, “I’m here. Not for any other reason than I love you.”
I was also missing the chance to glean immeasurable amounts of information. The information that can be gathered during free play include developmental, social and emotional. Often our children grow and develop new skills and abilities right before our eyes. However, because it happens so gradually and we parents tend to be so busy, we miss small developments. We no longer stand by to catch them as they teeteringly try to sit, stand, or walk on their own. In observing free play we have an opportunity to check out whether he is starting to pretend that toys are something else or if she is starting to truly play cooperatively with others.
Another bit of useful information that can be gleaned is about their interests. Is she changing her focus from horses to playing mommy? Does he tend to pick puzzles more of cars? Sometimes children’s interests and preferences are obvious (like my son who eats, sleeps, and breaths trains), but some are a little more subtle.One last piece of information that can be gleaned is what your child is picking up from the world around him. Children are sponges and, especially when they’re young, act as mirrors to their environment. Are there certain behaviors that are being picked up from you or your spouse? (Some of these may reinforce what you’re doing, others may encourage you to examine yourself.) What is your child learning from their peers and teachers? What parts of their favorite tv show is she imitating? All of these questions help you to determine how and what your child learns from his or her environment and may even lead to discussions on a variety of topics.

0 comments on "Playing Purposefully - part 1"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Playing Purposefully - part 1

One day recently I sat down on the floor with my 22-month old son (okay I wrote this a couple of years ago, but it’s still true) and just hung out with him while he played. Every once in a while he handed me a toy and engaged me in play, but mostly I was able to just watch him play. I was truly amazed at the things I learned and was reminded of in that brief 30 minutes of down time.
The first thing I realized was how infrequently I just hang out with my children. When my daughter, now almost 4, was one I hung out with her while she played several times a week. Then I was working part time. Now I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom. But having more than one child, and often at least one in addition to my own, I had gotten into the habit of busying myself while the kids played. I would do activities with them, feed them, etc., but I had stopped hanging out with them.
Sitting on the floor of my son’s room I realized all that had been missed by not purposefully taking the time to just be with my children. First, I was missing out on the quality time that happens when we’re present with someone we love with no end or goal in mind. These special times silently build bonds that say, “I’m here. Not for any other reason than I love you.”
I was also missing the chance to glean immeasurable amounts of information. The information that can be gathered during free play include developmental, social and emotional. Often our children grow and develop new skills and abilities right before our eyes. However, because it happens so gradually and we parents tend to be so busy, we miss small developments. We no longer stand by to catch them as they teeteringly try to sit, stand, or walk on their own. In observing free play we have an opportunity to check out whether he is starting to pretend that toys are something else or if she is starting to truly play cooperatively with others.
Another bit of useful information that can be gleaned is about their interests. Is she changing her focus from horses to playing mommy? Does he tend to pick puzzles more of cars? Sometimes children’s interests and preferences are obvious (like my son who eats, sleeps, and breaths trains), but some are a little more subtle.One last piece of information that can be gleaned is what your child is picking up from the world around him. Children are sponges and, especially when they’re young, act as mirrors to their environment. Are there certain behaviors that are being picked up from you or your spouse? (Some of these may reinforce what you’re doing, others may encourage you to examine yourself.) What is your child learning from their peers and teachers? What parts of their favorite tv show is she imitating? All of these questions help you to determine how and what your child learns from his or her environment and may even lead to discussions on a variety of topics.

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