This is the final section of my series based on the article 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10. To learn more about what I am doing, read my first post on Reading and Writing.
You can get this "10 things..." article plus SO much more information in the book Teaching the Trivium from the good people at Trivium Pursuit.
This week's focus is on Play and Exploration.
This topic could not come at a better time! My family just moved from a two bedroom, no yard, up a flight of stairs condo, to a nice home on an acre of land, with a basement. Before we barely had room to put our things, so many things were in bins and boxes in our one car garage. We tried to go out to parks as much as possible, but it was hard not just being able to run outside for a minute to burn off some energy. I know many families live this way (and worse!) so I am not complaining, but just contrasting to how blessed I feel now to have a home and yard for the children to play in and explore!
The article mentioned above encourages us to give our children plenty of time to play, but not necessarily in the way you might think. They suggest giving your children tools so they can create (build, garden, sew, etc.) and explore (binoculars, microscope, telescope, etc.) along with more traditional things like blocks and dress-up clothes. We get tons of plastic, electronic toys from family members, and while they are really fun for a short amount of time, we have seen how their sparkle soon wears off and the toy is mostly useless. I definitely see the great benefit in giving your child things that they have to think how to use, as opposed to the toy being the one to say how it's used (by talking or moving itself for example).
The article goes on to discourage us parents from letting our children use electronic devices for entertainment (TV, video games, etc.) I definitely see their point, but I can tell you it's hard to do! I see a difference in my son's attitude after he watches TV, and I hate it, but sometimes I just need an uninterrupted break so I let him watch. Really, I know that he needs to learn to play with things better (as opposed to watching things passively), and that is something that we are working on. I'm not going to tell you to never let your child use electronics, ever, but at least be aware of how much time they are spending doing this sort of thing.
We got into bad habits living in our condo. Since it was not easy to go outside to play and explore, my son would fill up with energy and not have anywhere constructive to get it out. He would act up and an easy way to have him clam down was to let him watch TV. This, of course, made him like TV more and want to watch it more because he was used to being fed entertainment instead of creating it himself. This is something we know we need to work hard at reversing. I can tell you already that just being in our new home with a yard to run out into has helped immensely! Since the TV isn't in a prominent place in the house, he doesn't see it as often so he doesn't ask to watch it. I am excited to see him learning the joy of playing and exploring, and can't wait to see him grow in this area!
Goals for Play and Exploration:
- Provide more tools for exploration
- Make good toys accessible in the house
- Drastically limit TV time (no more than 1/2 hour a day?)
Check out how we are doing on these goals in my follow up post, Play and Exploration Re-Visited.