After our fun adventure yesterday, I more than anyone, needed a day at home as housework, dogs, broken things, clothes with holes, and general chaos, don’t go away!! In fact it’s even more present due to having all three around all the time. However, I am also very sore after 2 rather enthusiastic days of exercise, so I can’t keep up with my trio ;-)!!
This is no bad thing though, as a whole day of free play was on the agenda (with a small break for maths and english, but not so it dominated her day or made her feel like she was missing out on the play session). They struggled at first to settle down, appearing like magic beside me needing things, squabbling, or just asking me random things, but after consistently emphasising they needed to go and sort out their own battles, they settled down to a good day’s play. Today it seemed to be focused around the fancy dress boxes, everyone sharing everyone else’s. The boys are extremely physical macho little men, but love a chance to raid their sister’s slightly more interesting, colourful, and sparkly princess outfits. There was a lot of imaginative and creative role playing going on from all three, and the games would merge and change as the day went on. I love listening to them when they are playing like this, less so do I love the mess at the end of the day or motivating them to clear it up!! However, all three benefited from a day of being more or less in total control of it, using their imaginations, and fending for themselves in sorting out dramas and disagreement.
Child led play is essential to their emotional and intellectual development. They are experimenting with ideas and emotions. It is not as frivolous as it seems, and yet the opportunities are ever decreasing. We struggled with them being limited to after school (home, supper, bath, and bed with maybe a quick play squeezed in), and weekends (parties and activities). Our mini men don’t do any activities yet and we have deliberately kept life simple on that front (although learning to swim is shortly on the agenda, but necessarily). Our little lady wasn’t overwhelmed by weekend activities but her great passion of dancing classes are on a Saturday. If you add parties into the equation (not strong enough to say no to her but go with a very busy social life instead), it often leaves very little down time, and a lot of herding children around time. We have now managed to reverse this. Saturdays she still has dancing for 2 hours, but as she is not at school, party invites have naturally dwindled to those few that really matter. She is in no way being deprived, but gaining more quality playtime.
This is how they learn. Studies show they increase their language skills, social skills, and empathy. They decrease their aggression, and have more self control. So to achieve this the children need open ended toys, such as fancy dress, us adults need to concede to more chaos (eeekkkkk!), and allow indoor and outdoor areas to merge as one (bbbrrrrr if it was like today-I was fully wrapped up cooking lunch indoors!). Program the children less, let them dream more :-).