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Organized Play for Kids at Home During COVID-19

Keeping kids occupied and engaged during the Covid-19 restrictions is challenging but with a little thought and some planning it is achievable. When your kids are happy and entertained it is easier for you to complete work, or whatever other activities you need to do to run your home and life during this testing time.

 

 

We have looked at the importance of the ‘Schedule’ in a previous article and how to map out the day’s activities and timetable to best suit the ages of your children and to fit around what commitments you have with working from home.

 

But how do you fill those ‘play’ hours that have been carefully scheduled in?

 

Planning dedicated time for play

 

Once you’ve mapped out times for things like food and school assignments, you’re ready to fill in the rest of the day. It is worth remembering that carving out time for dedicated child-led play is a very positive thing for kids. This is something that we often do not do enough and now is the perfect opportunity; when a child is imagining, creating, building or inventing, they are doing some serious learning.

 

In your new daily schedule, have a few 15 to 30 minute blocks of time, dependent on the age of your child you may need to do a little longer or a little shorter but within this timeframe will be about right. This is time for dedicated child-led play. The more your child plays, the more they learn to play – playing takes practice!

 

 

 

A few tips for effective playtime:

 

  • Now is a good time to sort out the toy box or playroom and remove any unused or broken toys. Removing clutter will make it easier for children to find the toys they can engage with.

 

  • The good news is that you do not need to order a bunch of new toys to keep your children occupied – the key is to focus on ‘open-ended play’.

 

  • Open-ended play is a hot topic among child development specialists; it allows a child to make their own decisions and fully engage with their creativity and imagination. Essentially there are no instructions, rules or guides for a child to follow - there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to complete or finish a project. Open-ended materials and toys are non-descript items that a child can play with freely.

 

 

Examples include:

•  Cardboard boxes

•  Clay, modelling clay or play-dough

•  Sand

•  Building bricks or stickle bricks

•  Fabrics

•  Paper supplies

•  Colouring pencils and paint

•  Cars and trucks, play kitchens and dolls (think toys from your own childhood)

 

  • Open-ended play doesn’t just entertain, it enables confident decision-making in children, it also helps them implement those decisions successfully. Whilst your child is developing, their imagination needs to be encouraged, this is particularly true between ages 3-7 years old. Engaging in open-ended play is crucial for these early stages of development.

 

  • When children engage in open-ended play together, they begin to practice their leadership and decision-making skills; if they are not handed a set of instructions or rules they will develop their own. If you give your child a board game or puzzle they will follow the instructions. However, if you give them a set of building bricks or other items from the list with no instructions or end result to aim for, they will build a creation entirely from their imagination. In doing so, they become the creative leaders of the own playtime and learn to develop critical decision-making skills.

 

  • There is no right or wrong with open-ended play which means your child will develop confidence and become less likely to refer to you for help. They become less afraid to make mistakes and more inclined to try new things.

 

  • So, skip the electronic toys that need constant replacement batteries, and instead opt for toys like train sets, role-playing toys, building blocks, play kitchens, modelling clay, paint, paper, crayons, card and craft items. These will require your kids to use their imagination and become absorbed in their own efforts, with no structured end or outcome.

 

  • An important point is to try to limit adult involvement; however, this does not mean unsupervised play. Allow yourself to accept some invitations to join in with play but don’t feel bad if you refuse other invitations kindly. Kids need to learn to play independently of adults. Whilst showing an interest in what they are doing is great, this is not a type of play that benefits from adults becoming too involved.

 

It is great to know that whilst your child is engaged in playing with basic toys they are learning a lot and that this really is important for their development. Keep an eye on how well they manage the play time slots and if they get bored after 15 minutes then keep them short, but if they are immersed and really enjoying what they are doing then it is fine to allow them a little longer. It is probably wise to change the activity after a while to keep play fresh and to allow for the other necessary activities on the schedule.

 

We’d love to see how your little one plays, share your playtime pictures with us using #BabyshopArabiaPlays