by Renee Peters
“Play is the highest form of research”
A well-documented quote from Albert Einstein and if you haven’t read it somewhere before I am sure you know what he meant by it? Children learn through play. One of my favourite things to do is to provide my son with rich play experiences.
Play isn’t just fun, it is how children learn about their world. Through cause and effect, experimenting, exploring their environment with their senses, observing, role playing, establishing cognitive patterns, developing on motor skills and coordination, learning important life skills; Becoming a happy healthy and thriving adult is hard work. It takes a lot of learning; some of these processes are overlooked and taken for granted.
The importance of play doesn’t end there. Yes it’s enjoyable for them and yes play is important in child development but play also provides parents with a door to connect with their child on a deep level. I always love to say that I am hands on, this I feel sums up the play connection I am referring to. Engaging and being present in play is a hands-on way to establish a deep connection and strengthen a healthy relationship with your child.
Time is a parent’s enemy when it comes to hands-on play. You have work to do, clothes to wash, errands to run, cleaning to tackle, the phone keeps ringing, the children are arguing, there is spilt milk on the floor, the kids need help with homework, dinner, a bath and to get to bed on time, the pets are starving and that cold cup of coffee that you made at 8.00 am is still sitting on the bench. I am sure you have been there before.
Connecting through play is easy when you consciously make it a priority. If you can make a time, even if it means getting up half an hour earlier or moving dinner time forward a little so you have a free 15 minutes to connect through play it can make the world of difference.
You can build a connection through play by giving your child your full attention, instead of pushing the swing while looking on your smart phone, turn the phone off. Instead of taking them to the beach and sitting back watching them, get on your knees and build a sand castle. If you are at home leave the dishes in the sink and the clothes dirty for a little longer, turn off the tv and take the phone off the hook, get down on their level and sit on the floor with them as you play.
The connection comes through your interaction; Listen to them play (really listen) you will be surprised where their imagination goes and the types of play they come up with, ask questions and talk to them, involve yourself in their game (not with your game ideas, with theirs), show that you are interested and you may learn something about your child that you haven’t taken notice of before, watch everything they do and you may see a skill or a side to them you haven’t really paid attention to before, offer praise, positive interactions, set good examples, be present and calm, then take note of the enjoyment in that moment. That is a great connection to have that can be built if you prioritise parenting play time on a daily basis, even if its 10 minutes.
Give it a try! Check out some of my other posts for Play inspiration
Renee Peters is a regular contributor to Positive Parenting Connection. She is also the author of Adventures at home with Mum and is a Australian hands on playful, stay at Home Mum to two children.
Read more about Renee and the Positive Parenting Connection Team.