We all are home! This lockdown has given us a great opportunity to connect with our children. More than us parents, our children are making the most of this time by demanding, that we play with them., almost ALL the time.
It is great that parents can give quality undivided attention to our children. However if we play with them, ALL the time, it isn’t great for their development.
Open-Ended play means playing by themselves rather than adults directing or instructing their play. Here are some pointers to why is it important that children, get a lot of open-ended play time.
- Imagination: With no restrictions on play, a block of wood can be a ship, a car or even a plate of pasta. Imagination of children really runs deep during open-ended play.
- Articulating their thoughts: During open-ended play time children often bring their own experiences and thoughts into their play. The articulation of thoughts brings out new ideas and allows them to use these new ideas in their play. This helps them to articulate their thoughts better.
- Emotional Regulation: Open-ended play relaxes your child. With lower restrictions or instructions from the adult, children are not reacting to a situation or the adult. This helps them to regulate their emotions better and calm themselves by getting lost in their thoughts during play.
Apart from being beneficial to children, we parents also enjoy a good break from interruptions by our children and can focus on our work. Here are some articles that you can read that share how some parents encourage open-ended play
For toddler parents this is an excellent article that gives 8 tips to independent play for toddlers
Here are some ideas to help you with some open-ended play at home
- Build a fort with bedsheets and pillows or under the chairs
- Offer age-appropriate loose parts
- Book play – Encourage your child to act out a much loved book. It will make your child build sequencing and story-telling skills. You can add simple prompts to encourage their play. Better still if your child can help to craft the prompts. For example-
- Setup Invitations to Play- This post shows how to setup various sensory bins using existing toys. Offer only a few set of toys – You will see a lot more imaginative and involved play with less number of toys. Rotate toys which are not being used.