Is there a right or wrong way to play with my child?
We ask Jaclyn Smith, assistant curriculum manager at Learning Vision. Here’s what she says:
Play is widely known to benefit a child’s development, from the physical and cognitive aspects, as well as language development. Through play, kids learn a multitude of knowledge and skills.
With recent emphasis on the benefits of play, parents may sometimes overcomplicate what play truly is or be overly caught up with crafting play experiences, making every experience optimised as a “lesson”; a teaching moment.
In doing so, you may lose sight of the very nature of play – the natural instinct to pick things up and explore. What can you do to make the most of your child’s playtime?
First, recognise that play should be encouraged; time allowed for the act of playfulness and imagination.
Related: 5 ideas for open-ended play
Secondly, recognise that play is nature’s gift to a child; an ability that comes naturally. What you need to do is observe and listen to when and how kids play.
Once you master the pleasure of observing and enjoying your children’s playful company, all you need to do next to be “right” in your approach to them is to respond accordingly, and enjoy it without judgment.
Kids are natural teachers who play this role unconsciously. They often teach you during playtime how to engage with them and extend those experiences to you, if only you are willing to humble yourself to enter into their world.
Lastly, remember the acronym PIE:
Participate It is important to take advantage of opportunities in daily situations to initiate and participate in your child’s play.
Interact Be involved and play along. It is important not to hijack fun from their play experiences by being too preoccupied about “teaching”, such as asking too many questions or steering the direction of play away from them.
Engage This may come in many forms, such as observing, listening, and responding. Children are aware if you are interested or attentive to their play, even if they are not able to successfully articulate it.
(Photo: Kanjanee Chaisin/123RF.com)