The main speaker’s key topic at the end year graduation at my son’s school couldn’t have emphasized more about play. She gave a powerful lecture on why preschooler’s together with their parents need to play more often. My son is a play-full boy. And some of the game s can be rough but I let him. He may get hurt by a fall or scratch but I also know at the end of the day he is developing motor skills, exercising, understanding how to relate well with others, he’s sharing and caring while discovering new things along the way. Children unlike adults have the ability to enjoy the simplest of play activity such as rolling in the mud which you’d consider dirt. No wonder OMO detergent once built their advertising on a powerful insight that ‘Dirt is Good’. Play is your perfect opportunity to engage your son or daughter in integrating learning as you share that time with them. Some tips to encourage play include:
Taking things at your child’s pace
Let your child lead the play. Don’t be in a hurry to change activity or show signals of boredom or you’re too old for that (of course, you’re too old for some things) like cha mama with the cooking toys. It’s good to simply participate and have fun while at it. You can try and cook ugali with them and pass a few tips on how it’s done.
Deliberately make the time
When you recognize how important play is to you and your child, you’ll make the time off the busy schedule, on weekends or after work. Remember, trying to engage play at meal, homework or sleep times can be counterproductive.
Allow your child some time to concentrate
Avoid the temptation to distract them or rush them especially if they are building something. Instead take notice of the activity or song. Become a cheerleader. Guide rather than do it for them especially to understand rules, pick the puzzle pieces or assembling. Also structure playtime around their preferences.
My son likes racing cars outdoors so I create time for him to do it either mid-morning or late afternoons because of the scorching sun.
Extend their play sessions when they’re ready
Depending on age and growth levels, get flexible on how much playtime your son or daughter deserves. You can also introduce another member of the family to play with them or encourage your child to make play mates in the neighborhood.