Take a second to think and define play…..
Play is a simple 4 letter word with endless definitions.
It’s playing with toys, playing dress up, running, jumping, twirling, making art, building blocks….and the list goes on and on.
In actuality, play needs to meet 5 elements in order to be considered play:
- Play must be pleasurable and enjoyable
- Play must have no extrinsic goals: There is no end goal to play. Children do not start play in order to learn…it will happen anyway, but that’s not the initial goal.
- Play is spontaneous and voluntary, chosen by the player.
- Play involves some active part from the player. They player does not sit passively, but actively engaged in play.
- Play contains a certain element of make-believe or a nonliteral component to play.
*Information from the book Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D. and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff. Ph,D.
So, what does this mean? Basically, play is chosen by the child, not the parent. If a teacher gives her class something playful to do they will describe that play as work. If the class comes up with the same activity themselves, they call it play!
You can ask a child to do an activity (like the ones I provide for J), but the child can chose to play with that activity…or not. That makes it chosen by the child They also choose how to play with that activity. There have been numerous activities that I’ve given J that I expect to go one way, but he ends up taking it a whole o ther direction. That’s ok though, because it’s play…there is no right way…because there is no extrinsic goal.
Activity #2: Set up a playful experience for your child
Choose one of the activities below and invite your child to play with the activity. Put the activity together and ask your child if they would like to play. Play with them, but let them lead their play. You’ll be amazed at what all the kids can come up with!
You can do all of these activities with any aged child. Be watchful of babies and small objects, but all these activities are developmentally appropriate for all ages.
- Set up a nature scene with animals, rocks, leaves, etc.
- Put together a sensory try….see examples here.
- Lay out some playdough….or make it…recipe is here.
- Pull out pots, pans, spoons, and other cooking supplies.
Allow your child to play with the objects as they wish, just lay them out and invite them to play…simple.
Tomorrow: Baby Play…plus an activity for ALL ages!