Play!!!

It's how a child learns.

You've seen them at it- They are so intensely involved in their game that nothing else matters- not hunger or cold or tiredness.  The game is so important to them that anything else is an interruption- their eyes shine, their cheeks are rosy. They are intensely and joyfully in the moment.  

This kind of play is so important. Their imagination is fully engaged, their little bodies are active.  The original, spontaneous play that shines 
out in the memory of childhood.

There are philosophies and school systems setup to nurture this essence of childhood.  But as with other aspects of creating a childhood, 
the best place is home and the best person is mother.

Don't over-schedule them so there is no time for self -directed play.

You don't entertain, rather provide the environment.

A happy environment that encourages creative play.

Provide another child, nature, a few props and time- uninterrupted time.

"But Muuuummmmm, we're in the middle of a GAME!!!!!!!"

Allow thinking, allow mistakes, allow creativity and mess, slot large blocks of time.

Adults like clean, tidy, untouched.  Children need creative mess, junk to use in their game.  Hands on.

An unfininshed backyard or a place that is not too organised to become a den, a dirt bike track, a campsite, a construction site, or a kitchen for 
mud pies.

In a summer downpour, float leaf boats down the gutter, go dancing in the rain, or boogie boarding down the grass.

Notice and enjoy the contrast- cold, wet, tired from hard play.  You warm, dry and relax them.  Reinforce that home is the source of all 
good things. YOU are the source of all good things. 

Set up contrasting experiences- walk home from school on a cold day and arrive home to hot milo and cinnamon toast.
Or let them stagger home on a sweltering day, then jump in the pool in their school uniform and socks. Or a water fight that you start.
 Remember freedom in alot of areas- strict in a few? (From Teaching Children Obedience)

Play unusual games- 
'Tractors in the snow'- a can of shaving cream they spray on the kitchen countertop and drive toy cars and tractors through the drifts.
'Mummys'- a roll of toilet paper wrapped around arms, legs, heads.  Then ripped up into snowflakes, then collected and smashed small in a cup of water.
'Spagetti pictures'- give them cooked spagetti to draw with on the kitchen cupboard.  Leave it over night to harden or just eat it.
'Aquariums'- Paint on the outside of your windows with children's paint, then go inside the room and you are underwater. (It sprays off- 
it also gives your husband the heebee-geebees...)

I love the cub scout approach- Keep them so busy having fun there is no time or inclination to act up. Try it- soon you'll say,
 "No, we don't have a TV problem.  We are too busy having fun."

I'll put up the "fun things list"  I've collected one of these weeks......

Some obstacles to real play-
Money- don't pay for play.  It is stifling their own ideas, and unneccessary. You don't need money to have fun.
Electric toys- expensive, preprogrammed, addictive. Do you really want your child's mind directed by large corporations?
Too many classes
Too many toys!!
Too many rules
Fear of nature
Fear of getting dirt on knees and clothes.
Overdone caution- you've heard the term "helicopter parent"- always hovering

One more essential ingredient- a mother to pop in and say,"OH WOW!  Show me again!"

-Lisa

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