The other day I was doing stuff in the living room and I turned around to see my 9-year-old had engaged in a random act of play and drawn this (see above) on the blanket we keep over our couch. Wow. Pretty cool.
Do you catch your kids at random acts of play?
This weekend, keep your eyes out for all the random moments in time you find your kids playing whether it is placing all their Shreddies in a line, drawing on the frosty car windows, walking funny, or making silly faces in the mirror when they are supposed to be brushing their teeth.
Kids naturally fall into play as it is nature’s way of teaching them about the world (as well as relaxing them). Drawing the girl in the photo above, my daughter learned about texture, the grain of the material she was working with, space, dimensions, and more. For her, she was just having fun.
Playing is fun. Playing is learning. Play makes learning fun.
Sometimes we get wrapped up in the ‘shoulds’ of learning and play. As adults we like to try and impose structure and schedules and our thoughts about play on our kids. That’s a natural tendency for us, but it isn’t the way kids learn naturally. They learn best through unstructured play which has freedom and flexibility. It doesn’t have rules or structure or time limits. For example, above, my daughter used her finger on a blanket. Voila. A moment of unstructured play. If I had tried to teach her all the things she innately absorbed in her moment of random play, it would have taken me ages to prepare. It would have bored her most likely, and it wouldn’t have been meaningful for her.
Does she remember making this drawing? Only because she saw me take a picture of it. But does her brain remember what she learned while drawing? You betcha. She connected neurons. She had fireworks going off in her brain as she took this self-discovery, self-initiated play in different directions. Heck, there was even some problem solving mixed in here when she discovered moving her finger one way erased the line she was trying to form!
So, while we may get frustrated when kids drag their feet, remember that there is a lot going on in that growing brain and that your child is learning a lot about the world around them.
Relax, let them play. Value it. Cherish it. And: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Question: What have you caught your kids playing at lately? Have there been any random acts of play? Watch for them. Maybe even instigate one or two as well!