Whilst there is an ever growing pressure on our children to perform academically, there is so much for them to learn through unstructured, creative play.
Through creative play, your child will develop skills that will allow them to utilise information that they will learn in the classroom and put it into action rather than becoming “chanting learners”.
Creative play is important for learning and development. It provides them with the opportunity to develop their social skills, emotional development, encourages their imaginations to grow along with cognitive thinking and language skills.
They may practice important life skills such as dressing themselves whilst playing dress ups and preparing meals while hosting a tea party.
There is no right or wrong outcome; creative play is simply about the process of creating something. Whether it may be creating a drawing, sculpture, an instrument, cubby house or a game of pirates, the child will be able to explore their world and express themselves in a way that is just right for them.
They may practice situations they have experienced so to build a better understanding and interpretation of the events. This is really very interesting for us as parents to observe. We can learn a lot about what our children have perceived by watching them act out the scenario through creative play. It is also a way for them to escape the hustle of their everyday lives and allow them to unwind and relax.
As parents, how do we encourage our children to engage in creative play?
- Share in the excitement of the activity! When finding a cardboard box, act excited for the opportunities that it will bring. Offer inspiration that will appeal to your childs interests. Plant the seed and see where it will take your childs imagination
- Give your child materials that they are familiar with and some that are new. Familiarity will give them confidence and the new materials will engage their curiosity. Paints, chalk, popsticks, toilet paper rolls, sticks, sand, mud, dress up clothes (Dads old work pants included 🙂 ), empty plastic bottles – the list is endless!
- Join in and offer affirmation! Be an active participant or simply commentate their actions. Offer inspiration by getting a piece of paper and joining them for some painting or put on an apron and ask them how you can help them in their play kitchen. Alternatively, praise them for their efforts and get excited with them when they try something new. Encourage them to tell the story behind what they are creating; why, how, what, who are all open ended questions to ask.
Pretend food is a great tool for any play kitchen. Your child can explore different foods in a no threat, non confrontational manner or simply replicate what they have seen their parents do each and everyday in the ‘grown up kitchen’.
Play sets offer many opportunities for creative play. Your child may arrange the pieces exactly how they like and then build up a story line surrounding their creation. Why not use a favourite book as inspiration and see how your childs imagination may evolve the story beyond whats in the pages.
Through creative play your child will be able to experiment with different methods, take risks, tackle problems, find solutions and become more efficient thinkers. Expand your childs imagination and give them the opportunity to become confident decision makers!
Dani D x
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