Now I’m not one of those moms incessantly trying to find and create links for every children’s activity to link back to an educational perspective. No way, I want my children’s imagination to be free to grow and explore. Playtime and downtime are as important for kids as it is for us adults to relax too!
However, if there is a scenario whereby my children can have fun and learn at the same time then yes I’m all for it.
It seems to be a big conversation between some of my mommy friends at the moment about how to strike the balance. I wondered if any of my Spoke readers’ felt the same and could shine a light on it. So I began writing this blog by listing what I want to do as a mom to expand my children’s imagination by play. I wasn’t going to share it as it was just in my notes, but then I thought ‘what the heck, we’re all in this together right?’ So here are my aims when I say ‘play time’ to my kids:
- To boost their creativity and imagination
- To see them enjoy life and relax while they’re still free to do so
- To introduce and encourage their element of choice in how they behave
- To create their ability to share
- To develop their skills
- To instill kindness for themselves and for others
- To let them use technology as long as it enriches their lives
- To spend time with them playing for us all to bond
- To encourage play by themselves to let them explore what they like/don’t like at their own pace
Here is how our family tries to strike a balance.
Sports & Physical Activities
Nothing but pure fun, fitness and family time. Boom! They learn to be conscious of other people, to take in their surroundings and have fun whilst hopefully keeping fit.
For those rainy days, sunny days and whenever if they love it. I know that I enjoy seeing what their creative minds pull together out of clay or materials. Boosting their imagination, (hopefully) sharing, hand to eye co-ordination and improving their problem-solving abilities—well that is until they ask me to finish the sewing or whatever it is.
Playing Dress Up
So much fun because with the costume comes different accents and lots and lots of giggling. I hope that this in some way creates an appreciation for other job roles and how other people live and talk. It definitely creates fun with their friends and boosts their imagination. Their ability to share? Well the potential is there for it, it depends how many of them want to be firefighters and how many hats we can find.
This one is tricky and definitely more about rule setting, respect and balance. I’ll admit I struggle when I see children glued to screens playing violent games. When you see what’s happening in the media it’s making children from an early age win points for killing. Nope, I’m not cool with that at all. I just don’t feel that it’s broadening their mind in a good and balanced way, it’s not showing both sides of the story, it’s not creative.
I watch kids who play these violent games and they get tense, frenetic, angry and they learn that the only way to solve problems is by shooting something or someone. Um no. Not in my house!
But that doesn’t mean a blanket ban on games or technology. This generation is growing up in a digital age and I don’t want my kids to be behind at school because they don’t know how to use a tablet. There are tonnes of options and means for parents to control what they view online and we just need to be savvy to do that.
Typically in my house, we have an equal balance between Minecraft and DiaryZapp – one is pure play, one is creating a journal of memories from the day for them to remember. Within the app, there are subtle literacy learning hints so I don’t feel bad them being on it for twenty minutes. Plus I love seeing what part of their day resonated with them in their journal. The games we allow are fun, bright, colorful, problem-solving in some way, have crazy characters and Noah and Ella giggle a lot when they’re playing them. Positive, good vibes – that’s what I want!
From a story point of view and also from an ‘I want to be a director or and actress’ point of view. Again, the same rules apply with choosing content as they do when using a tablet, but between the channel providers and settings you can utilize on smart TV’s these days, it’s pretty easy to set standards that you’re happy with.
The one element with play that is really important, and in some ways we have little control over, is what they get up to when they have a playdate at someone else’s home. We just need to make sure that the people who are around us, close family and friends are all clear/share the same view on what we want to fill our children’s minds with—what’s acceptable and what’s not.
We’ve all got different views on this but hopefully, we can all find a way to muddle on through and do what we feel is best and right for our children to inspire them when they’re having fun and playing. They’re kids: the bottom line is that they need to be having fun to be inspired.
Let me know your thoughts on this; I’m definitely interested to chat!