Making Time To Play

Children aren’t small for long this is something all us parents know only too well and although many of us lead busy lives it is also important to make sure we find the time to play with our children as this is a crucial time for their learning.

The government, teachers and Ofsted have finally come to realise that play helps children learn. By incorporating fun themes to children’s learning it can help make certain experiences more memorable for them and also less scary. Recently Nathan has been working on a topic in his class called “motion in the ocean”. His class went on a trip to an aquarium and have been busy working on projects in their classroom. He came home one day asking to play a game he had learnt in class about the different sea creatures. Similarly the whole school have been creating work around the story of the Gruffalo. This is one of the boys favourite stories as we read it together all the time, as the school have taken on board what children like and enjoy they are encouraging them to learn and as it is something they are interested in they will pay more attention and enjoy it too.

The most important learning can sometimes be come from the most simple of play-times as it enhances problem solving skills, attention span, social development and creativity. One important thing for a parent is learning what makes you happy and what makes you laugh as this will help your child/children cope with challenges. This also acts as a buffer against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

PLAY is vital to a child’s healthy development and not just something to be done as a reward or an afterthought.

I make time to play by ensuring the time when the boys are at home is our time. I turn off my phone for at least an hour a day and all the other electrical things that can be a distraction and make sure we have quality time together. This is easy for me as I am a stay at home mum, I ensure that the shopping and housework is done whilst the boys are at school and nursery. I know this isn’t always possible for parents but sometimes even making a game out of going food shopping can leave a child with the feeling that they have had quality time with their parent.

Here are some of the things I have recently done / do with the boys on a regular basis.

*Play role play with the boys, both James and I love to sit and play with his Jake and the Neverland Pirates pirate ship and characters. We pretend that we are Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and we have to help Jake and his friends escape the naughty Captain Hook. We can easily spend the afternoon doing this as time flies by. Similarly Nathan loves me to play with him and his Batcave. He is always Batman as he is the good guy, I can be anyone I want to be so longs as they are bad and Nathan can lock me up in jail and save the day as the Super Hero.

* Paint pictures with the boys of their favourite toys. They tell me what they are and what they can do.

* Read stories and become the characters, this makes the boys laugh and they have been known to act out their favourite parts to stories – one of Nathan’s favourite stories is Jack and the Beanstalk. He likes to pretend to be the giant and loves to shout “Fee fi fo fum….”

* Play football in the garden with Callum, although I am totally rubbish and he says I kick like a girl (urmmmm hello what exactly am I?) I wouldn’t change a thing. He runs rings around me literally but to see his little face when he scores is priceless. He usually pretends to be a top footballer from Arsenal (this of course is debatable that Arsenal actually have any top players) but he loves it.

*Make Lego creations, I spend hours helping the boys to create these masterpieces following pager after page of instructions just for them to demolish it within 5 seconds flat.  But on the plus side Lego helps them to develop their creative sides and ensures that they concentrate on something for more than just five minutes. 

* Going to the park. There is nothing better than a ride on the slide or a push on a swing. Or a walk in te woods with our dog Pepper. We sing songs whilst we walk too (but shhhhhhhhh don’t tell anyone as my voice is seriously terrible)

No matter how little time you have spare with your children whether it be 20 minutes or a whole week you should play with them and encourage them to play. Life is too short and you and your child should be enjoying the time you have together. After all the more good influences they have whilst small the better people they will turn out to be in later life.

For more information check out http://www.maketime2play.co.uk/

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