Inspiring Play

Some of you might be surprised to learn, I don't really play with my children very much. Sure, I've been known to put on the odd dress-up and I've certainly eaten a lot of pretend food and drunk many cups of pretend tea, but it's not very often I sit and play with them for long periods of time.

This is completely deliberate. I think child's play is and should be a child's domain and too much involvement by grown-ups can actually remove a lot of the benefits play can provide.

Don't get me wrong, I always keep an ear out to hear how they're playing and I think a lot about what they play with and how they might use it. I also 'check-in' often to ask about what they're doing and offer help and suggestions if it's needed. I guess I try to inspire play and help the kids to build on their own ideas. I think it's really important for their problem-solving, imagination, creativity and ultimately their self-esteem

A great example of this happened on the weekend. The children were busy building with some 'mobilo' close to the kitchen where I was preparing dinner.

Em came up to show me some of what she'd been doing. She had made a perfectly working see-saw. Always keen to extend on what they're doing, I said to her "that would make a great see-saw for one of your 'Littlest Pet Shop' toys, wouldn't it". "Yeah" she yelled and ran back to where she was working to share this new information. "Ed", she said "my 'Littlest Pet Shops' could fit in this see-saw and in all these other things we made". "We could make Littlest-Pet-Shop-Town" he said.

So, they set about it with a new purpose to their building and an extra dimension to their play.

This idea turned a couple of hours of building into an imaginative play game that grew and evolved and blossomed for the whole weekend, giving so many areas a developmental work out. The kids were building on many, many skills including:
- imagination
- creativity
- problem solving
- fine motor skills
- eye-hand co-ordination
- planning
- negotiation
- language skills
- story-building/literacy skills
- concentration

I'm still not allowed to pack it up today

Come over and play at the 'Childhood 101' 'We Play' link up

We Play


  1. I wish I didn't get dragged into the playing all the time, as a lot of it I just don't enjoy, but as Princess is an only child and there are no other kids on our street I am her primary playmate. There are times when she will entertain herself, but mostly she wants someone to play with.

    Which is why some days my dishes may not be done until after lunch ....

  2. I too enjoy staying back and watching what my girls come up with. The Littlest Pet Shop toys are big at our house also.

    Love the Mobilo creations, the animals look very happy in their pen.

  3. Wow, I love the direction took after your suggestion! Awesome :)

  4. I agree, sometimes adults need to let the children alone. I have found their ideas are much more creative then mine.

  5. I'm with you on this one. Parents often need to take a step back. My youngest is still under 2, so just getting the hang of playing with his sister, but I love the moments when I can step right back and just watch them interact with each other.

  6. Em and Ed sound like they play beautifully together.

  7. I agree with you about taking a step back and letting them lead their own play... and I think its great how you gently helped to direct their play further... :) Clapclap!

  8. Thanks for your great comments (and applause, MamaJ!).

  9. They are so fortunate to have each other :)