Playing With Your Child

Let the hands of time go back to the period when you were a young child.  Was it delightful when an adult played with you?
When I was a preschooler, I enjoyed the company of a dear grandmother of a childhood friend who lived close to our house.  She told us fairy tales as well as stories of heroes every afternoon.  She was long gone but I treasured her jokes and stories and cherished them long after my childhood had passed.

Research studies show that a child's play is encouraged, enriched and facilitated when a creative adult participates.  The resulting play gets more sophisticated and extended than one without adult participation.  Adults can provide a rich variety of activities for the child to choose from.  They all enrich and stimulate the child's imagination.

An adult's creativity greatly helps in fun imaginative plays.  Consider a simple play like pushing a child in a swing.  A child enjoys the back and forth swinging, however, a creative adult can add more to the fun.  While the child is swinging, you can encourage the child to sing rhymes along with you.  You can also stimulate the creative imagination of the child by saying "Go up in the sky! Go up in the clouds! Go up in the tree, in the building" and "Go down the green grasses! Go down on earth," and so on while the child goes up and down in a swing.  The child can also be an astronaut who goes up to the moon in a space capsule and lands back on earth, or down in the deep blue sea.  Our preschoolers patiently wait for their turns in a long queue for this fun swinging adventure during our outdoor play.

In playing with your child, you are both a player and a facilitator.  In moments of fun play, you are a playmate who is as involved in the game as your child.  Be a child again for some moments.  Believe me, this is a good way to relax and an effective therapy to slow down the aging process.

As a facilitator, the adult creates a playful atmosphere by providing safe materials and environment which the child can explore and adapt in play.  The creative adult can offer a new prop, suggest new roles or provide new experiences in cases when the play becomes boring or less enjoyable to the child.  Children should be given choices and freedom to decide a play situation.

In playing, let your child tells you who you should pretend to be, asking directions to the child director as to what to act or what to do.  Trust your preschooler as an expert in the field of fantasy and imagination.  It is a world perfectly created to fit your child's needs.  The play will be drawn to what interest your child, thus increasing his attention and enthusiasm in the play.  Knowing that you are interested in what he or she does will eventually increase your child's feeling of self-worth.
An adult's free-play moments with a child create special loving bonds and intimacy.  As the child expresses himself or herself freely in a play, the adult learns to know more about his or her strengths, weaknesses, fears, frustrations, likes, dislikes, and feelings.  All of these would be revealed to you as you involve yourself in free plays with your child.

Being a mother, a grandmother, and an early childhood educator, I've learned that the shortest way to a child's heart is through play.  However, there are times when it is best for children to play with their peers.  You may exit from the scene in a play when the children are already fully engaging and enjoying the fun play among themselves in a safe environment.

What about the busy parents who hardly can find time to play with their young children?  It is hard to find a slot of quality time play in a busy schedule of everyday activities.   However, a creative parent can incorporate some of these activities into  fun play. I love to create and tell silly action stories while guiding my young granddaughter in cleaning up her bedroom.  It was a fun fitness time for myself and the young child as we danced with the music at the end of the story.

With more free fun plays, children joyfully explore, learn and fully express themselves without fear.  It becomes easier for them to listen and appreciate discipline and guidance from adults.  Telling your child "Yes, sweetie, I'll play with you because I love you" is a sure-fire way to strengthen the bonds between you and your child. 

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