Monday, January 6, 2014

Intentional Play

Sometimes parenting is a pretty dull gig.

It's not easy to run trains across a coffee table for more than an hour. It's really not.

And most days I'm short of ideas and, increasingly, short of patience for regular 'toy' play.

There's been a lot of solo unstructured play for Dear Boy in the past few months - time where he entertains himself and will happily lay on the floor for half the day, chatting with his trucks and trains. This is a blessing when things need to be done, and great for letting him discover his own imagination and preferences, but I think there's a hole there too. We hang out, we talk, we read books, we cuddle and love each other. But he and I, we don't really do much craft or sensory play; we don't have much connection to nature or the broader concepts of the world; we don't cook together or even do much physical activity.

I think this is a space where more intentioned play could fit. I'm not talking fully scheduled and structured days, but rather encouraging his natural development and giving me some ideas of things to do.

Before Christmas, Dear Boy wasn't throwing or kicking balls... not because he's not a physical kid, but we just never really played with balls. He didn't see me throwing or kicking them; we don't watch or play any sport, so why would it occur to him to do it? If we gave him a ball, he'd hang on to it, or insiston handing it to me, or hold it above his head and let it go so it fell behind him. So I set the goal to have him throwing and kicking balls before we came home from our holidays. We enlisted our family and made it a regular thing. And whaddaya know? He's throwing. He's giving kicking a good go (although it's hit and miss - boom tish).

Intentional play for me is not about building him into a super human or a prodigy. Not interested, thanks.

What I am interested in is putting together a bunch of ideas for activities and conversations and adventures, so I can feel like a more active and intentional parent and be more aware of his knowledge, skills, abilities and preferences. I don't want this stuff to pass me by while I'm busy stressing about what he's (not) eating and that he's taking forever to fall to sleep and transitioning to a big-boy bed and getting rid of the dummy, etc.

So here's my new project for 2014: intentional play. 

This is going to centre around a monthly theme for activities and play, tying into the seasons, cultural dates and events where ever possible. I'd like to see a handful of big(-ish) family outings tying into some themes (Werribee Zoo, Bundoora Farm, Philip Island, etc) as well as some everyday adventures. For each theme, I want to introduce activities that focus on one or some combination of:

  • gross motor skills
  • fine motor skills
  • imaginative play
  • sensory play
  • knowledge, language and literacy
  • nature

I'm hoping to use resources we already have at our disposal. I'm hoping Lovely Husband joins in occasionally. I'm hoping it might be interesting. I'm not expecting to pull out something new every day. I'm not expecting Dear Boy to love or finish everything we try. I'm not expecting complexity or masterpieces or miracles.

He's a toddler after all.

I'm putting together the themes and a few starter ideas for activities now and will reveal them in the next few days. Any suggestions or favourite activities?

1 comment :

  1. Absolutely love this!! I started doing some things related to "topics" or "themes" last year (like seasons, dinosaurs, sea animals etc) but it kinda fell away over Christmas. It'll be great to get back into this again!! Thanks for inspiring me to add this to my list for 2014 too :)

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