Written For ParentCircle Website new design update
During these times of uncertainty, it's important to encourage and support your child's play. Here are 10 ways to provide open-ended and inviting play environments for your child during the lockdown
COVID-19 is currently dictating all aspects of our lives. Due to the lockdown, parents are busier than usual, working from home, doing the housework, and balancing the expectations of home-schooling. One helpful way parents can manage their own stress and their children's is simply to let children play more. With all the uncertainty surrounding us, both parents and children could benefit through playtime. Playing makes the day better and provides invaluable stress relief without the suffocating expectation of externally imposed ideas of productivity.
Given their current restricted mobility, children will most likely feel energetic or bored in waves. When boredom hits, they find things to do, and when they rest, boredom hits and the cycle repeats itself. While this is true in the span of a single day, in my experience so far, this also applies to a series of days. Left to their own devices, children are largely able to spend their days without the onset of a sense of definitive boredom, simply because they are able to play. In a state of play, children look after themselves and look out for themselves. On some days children can be fully engaged, absorbed in their play for long stretches of time. Other days can be comparatively dull, with less play and more boredom.
As several play theorists have noted, play is not frivolous. It is not something children need to do to merely pass time. Play is a journey of self-discovery that is biologically driven, and intrinsically motivated. Time, space and permission are the three important conditions that need to be met for children to play to their satisfaction. When these conditions are met, children unlock their minds, bodies and souls to their ideas and their imaginations. They know exactly what to do, and how they want to do it. If they are in control, they are able to express what is important to them at the moment, and they know, intuitively, when they want or need to stop. As parents, as we move through exhausting and stressful days of work-from-home and housework, we need to remember this, even if the urge to control our children's play kicks in.
Children do not need their parents to play with them at all times, and neither do they need to be constantly fed with ideas and activities. You can, however, support their play by providing varied, open-ended and inviting play environments that will serve to enrich their experience. Avoid stepping in into their play. Join them if they invite you to do so.
Here are some ideas to create such environments, suitable for the indoors using materials that are most likely available at home. These ideas are meant to be suggestive. You can mix, match and extend any of these ideas. The goal here is to inspire and sustain your children at play by providing them with additional tools that will allow their imaginations to be as expansive as possible, even as they are stuck indoors.
As parents, we should be supporting our children's play now more than ever. We need to accept how they play, without judgment - whether it means putting up with the noisy ruckus in the corridors, or the quiet, but messy play extending into the living room.
As your children play, they will be happier, healthier, and better able to navigate the constrictions of the present moment. The way our children play (or don't play) will shape their experiences and memories of this period.
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