When children play they’re discovering the world around them. Playing on their own and with others helps them sort out roles, relationships, and concepts. Sure, playtime can be boisterous and rambunctious, but it can also be quiet and introspective — it’s important to provide your child with the opportunity for both kinds.
Let’s take a look at how to create opportunities for your child to play creatively and freely in your home.
1. Provide space for spreading out. It’s tempting to try to control messes by limiting play space to certain corners of the house. But giving children the freedom and flexibility to spread out and play with abandon can be liberating for them. Use cubbies, storage bins, and other organizers to keep the mess under wraps when playtime is done. But every now and then, embrace the chaos!
2. Create stations for play. Dedicated stations for play can help your child learn just as much at home as at school. They foster active learning and encourage children to engage, explore, discover, learn, and solve problems on their own. Organize your playroom, living room or child’s bedroom according to activities: a special spot for toying with building blocks or loose parts, a dress-up or art corner, a quiet spot for reading and so on.
3. Include materials to create with. Don’t restrict your child to just crayons. Providing a wide array of creative materials without giving specific instructions on how to use them will boost your child’s creativity. Create a craft corner or set aside a few cubbies in your kitchen for watercolors, markers, crayons, clay, pipe cleaners, and more. Of course, use discretion when deciding what materials are appropriate for your child’s age or developmental stage. And use your imagination when choosing — the sky’s the limit!
4. Offer dress-up and role-play items. Playing dress-up helps children make sense of the roles they see played out around them every day by family, friends, and teachers. Set aside a special corner and hang fun hats and costumes on a wall for your children to try on. Supply them with play dishes, tools, and other real-life items for role play.
5. Nurture problem solving and invention. Sometimes your child’s Legos seem like they’re just a loose collection of annoying pieces to step on in the hallway or suck up into your vacuum cleaner. But these tiny toys actually go a long way toward helping your child come up with creative solutions to problems. Add a loose-parts station to your playroom to get those creative juices flowing.
6. Support multisensory play. Children establish a connection to the world around them by experiencing it through sensory play. Design your children’s play area with multiple senses in mind: instruments for playing and hearing music, multiple textures for touching and dynamic lighting or art for visual stimulation.
7. Add complex sizes and shapes. Encourage children to understand the relationship between themselves and the space around them with different-size play items. A tunnel out of chairs and blankets, a fort built in the living room, or a playhouse made of boxes encourages them to see the world in a different light.
Read Summer Baltzer’s original article on Houzz.