When you think back to your childhood what was your fondest memory? Do you remember where you were? Or who you were with? Most of the memories I have include my sister and playing outside. Being outside was the best part of our day. Getting to run around free and use our imagination was our favorite thing to do together when we weren't fighting with each other. It gave us an opportunity to pretend to be someone else in an imaginary place in our own backyard. Such imaginary play can be seen as a waste of time and non-conducive to the learning process but in my opinion and the opinion of many others imagination is where learning begins.
As a child grows their likes and dislikes, moods, and learning skills change. Along with these changes comes the evolution of how we play. When we are a baby we are interested in shiny things and fun noises. As an adult we are still interested in shiny things like cars or jewelry and fun noises like music. We like the same types of things we did as a child just a little bit differently.
What have you done lately to help your child explore with their imagination? Free play and imagination play are done without the assistance of an adult but there are things you can do to create a space for free play to occur. Setting up sensory and dramatic play areas in your home or classroom are a great way to promote creative play. After seeing how much fun the children are having in the area get down and join in on the fun!
"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere." - Albert Einstein
In this issue of the Essential Slyde Newsletter:
- Coloring Page: Play Friendly
- How Much Free Play Does Your Child Get?
- Slydetoon: Introducing Slyde the Playground Hound
- I Spy Slyde...
- Featured Friends: Rita Watts and Jamie Lee
- Activity: Which Children are Playing Safely?
How Much Free Play Does Your Child Get?
Being a parent can be very busy and chaotic at most times; the more children you have the crazier things can get. Trying to schedule every moment of your child's day can be helpful when trying to keep them on task or accomplish daily routines. Being the person and parent that I am scheduling is my life. My gal has nap time, bedtime, and other hygienic routines; I feel these are important for her stability.
Although I am all about routines I am also very passionate about imaginary free play. Growing up with five siblings free play was all we had. We definitely didn't mind because we had each other and plenty of space to adventure and play. Whether it was in our fort in the tree, the field behind our house, or playing Barbie's in our bedroom we used our imaginations to keep us busy throughout the day. One of our favorite things to do was play in the field behind our house. It was just an empty field with a group of trees. We would pretend the trees are houses and that we were princesses in hiding. To this day I still poke fun at my sister for sweeping the dirt around our tree houses.
Free play isn't something you can plan or set up for your children. It is all about them using the things around themselves and creating something new. This is how they grow and learn different life skills. Free play is not just play it takes cognitive, nurturing, and language skills to play like this. The more a child uses their imagination and play freely the more confident they will become throughout their cognitive and social skills. Building these skills will help them grow through out their school years and even into adulthood. What your children do now and as they grow is very important to the person they will become in the future.
To learn more about the importance of free play see to the links below:
Let the Children Play
The Power of Pretend Play
Linking Self-regulation, Pretend Play and Learning in Young Children