Tag: Play

Free Play – Children Need It To Thrive

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but to children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)

Free play is something that we prioritise for our children, and we find very important.  We find it re-centres our three, and allows them to “just be”.  Children these days have a lot of structure in their lives.  There is structure during the school day, there are after school activities, and there are a lot of screens to be used.  Add that in together with an increased reluctance to allow our children to take risks and decreased time for unrestricted outdoor play , free play is in danger of becoming a lost activity for our children.  This post discusses what free play is, why it is important, and how we can help as parents, or people looking after children, to provide opportunities for it to happen.  

An impromptu tea party for a dog who can’t escape her play with his broken leg 🙂

What Is Free Play?

Free play is totally unstructured and a fully child initiated form of play.  This child led experience is a spontaneous activity born out of an interest, curiosity, or enthusiasm about something they want to pursue further.  Their imaginations take them wherever they want to go, with lots of motivation and learning along the way.  It is a simple form of play that does not require complicated gadgets or electronic toys, just whatever is to hand, whether that be a stick or a doll.

While I cook our sunrise breakfast, the children are “catching fish” for theirs, with a spontaneous game of “fishermen”. No toys, just good old sticks

Why Do Children Need Free Play?

  1. Free play leads to increased enthusiasm and motivation as they are following their own interests and curiosity, rather than something predetermined by an adult.
  2. It is a very important learning method through self discovery.

    They decided to build a den on hike one day while I cooked lunch

  3. It decreases anxiety and stress:  Fight or flight pathways are activated during play (same pathways that are activated by stress), so they get exposed to stress but in a positive way.  This in turn makes them less responsive to stress and they can regulate it more effectively.
  4. It helps develop social and emotional connections

    Collecting the dead roses I was cutting and the fallen petals, led to an important game of potion making here

  5. It increases a child’s resilience.
  6. Teaches the child good negotiation skills if the play involves other children.

    Being allowed to play on a beach in winter led to experimenting with dam building and redirecting water

  7. Following on from the negotiation skills, it can then teach them to compromise and adapt.
  8. It uses their imaginations and leads to increased creativity.

    They have built a pretend fire in the garden to toast marshmallows on

  9. Due to using their own initiative, it helps improve problem solving skills.
  10. It increases their confidence as they engage in new experiences.

    Looking for crabs on the beach


How Can We Provide Free Play Opportunities?

  1. Fancy dress boxes:  You needn’t spend a fortune on outfits.  Mine have collected a few over the years, but a lot of their outfits are old bridesmaid dresses, dance costumes of mine, or old hats, scarves, and shoes.  They love dressing up and then making up a scenario to go with it.
  2. Have less toys with electronic functions, or predetermined functions, but instead allow more for the child’s imagination to take over.

    Crushing chalk and mixing with water was the play going on here, which started originally as drawing with the outdoor chalk

  3. Less parental intervention or suggestions, less coached activities, and less screen time.
  4. Provide protected time for free play to actually happen.  If it has been a hectic week with commitments, scale down the scheduled activities and let them play.

    They made their own see-saw

  5. Take them to outdoor spaces, and then allow them time to have free play in that environment.  For example, on beaches or in woods.  Sit and watch the play take over when you give them the time.  If you don’t walk as far that day in the woods because a “campfire” needs to be made or a den built, or a river-let of water “fished” in, come back another day.  They will have learnt more from having the time to play rather than being moved on because a trail needed to be walked.
  6. If you are taking a circular walk, allow more time than needed.  This then allows them time to investigate and play with chunks of ice, or admire a ladybird.

    Investigating the ice on a hike

  7. At home, leave craft supplies out, and see where their creativity leads them into with what is left out.
  8. At play parks allow them to determine how to use the equipment.  If the game involves walking up the slide (as long as no one wants to come down) it isn’t harming anyone.  As adults we think we know how equipment should be used, but stand back and let the professionals show you 🙂
  9. Allow for boredom…..don’t fill it in!

Making a planet for their dinosaurs

When we take them to the library, we try not to make it rushed, allowing them time in there too.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the benefits of free play and ways in which we as the grown ups can make this happen.  There are benefits for us as well…..life is slower.  There are less scheduled commitments, we feel less like a taxi driver, pulled in multiple directions, and there is less stress in our daily living due to being less busy 🙂  It is a win for everyone!

Free Play - Children Need It To Thrive, Free play, play, unstructured play, www.mammasschool.co.uk


Get Your Vitamin N – March Outdoor Activity List

Last month, I started uploading a monthly outdoor activity list which you can access under the freebies tab (with the password you get sent after subscribing to the blog).  It is now time to think about the March outdoor activity list, which can now be accessed under the freebies tab 🙂    If you don’t have the password, don’t worry, subscribe to the blog and you will be sent it in your confirmation email. 

Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one.  Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden, a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped.  As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder. 

That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page, a monthly list of 10 activities to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people.  These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind.  So head over now to the freebies tab and check out the March outdoor activity list.

The aim behind the ideas for the March outdoor activity list for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple, so shouldn’t put you off. And if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved, head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂  Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!!  It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), into whatever awaits you out there.

I am hoping through these activities that you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside.  If you need more information about an activity, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below for each month, I will love hearing about your experiences.  You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing.  Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your instagram  photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook .  Go and have fun in March 🙂Get Your Vitamin N - March outdoor activity list, outdoors, outdoor fun, outdoor activities, spring fun, vitamin N, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Inspiration Wednesday – The Importance Of Play

Children’s Winter Outdoor Clothing – From Tiny Trolls Of Norway.

We received a very exciting parcel in the post from Tiny Trolls of Norway.  They had very kindly kitted out my double trouble for the Swedish winter with a whole winter outdoor wardrobe, and popped a few surprises in there for my little lady (their sizing only goes up to 8 years, and she’s a very tall 9 year old).  Tiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years.  The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already! Their motto is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing”, and by making such high quality winter outdoor clothing for children, they are ensuring that children can play outdoors whatever the winter weather throws at them!  So what had they sent us?

Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

  1. Trollungen Winter Jacket:  They had kindly sent us this in 2 different colours as I like my boys to be able to tell at a glance whose coat is whose, if possible.  This jacket is waterproof to 10000mm!!  That is a serious substantial amount, meaning they can play outdoors in the snow or winter rain for hours with no discomfort.  It is 3000G breathable, and is also windproof.  It is lined with the softest cosiest fleece ever. It has reflective detailing on the outside (very important in the long dark winters so the traffic can see the children), and the hood is detachable.  
  2. Trollungen Winter Pants:  These are made to the same high spec as the jackets.  They are 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and also windproof.  They are warm and padded, but so the child can still play and move, they have an adjustable waist and over the shoulder straps, there is a snug elasticated fit for the boot area, with a popper to undo to make it easier to get on and off, and there are stirrup straps to pop under boots, to prevent trousers riding up and letting the elements in.  These also have some reflective detailing too.
  3. Tommel-Liten Winter Mittens:  These gloves are again 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and windproof too.  They are lined with the same softest, cosiest lining as the coats, and have large cuffs so they fit well either over the top of jackets, or underneath (which would prevent that unpleasant cold snow up the coat arm sensation).  
  4. Lykketroll Winter Hat:  These are so soft and warm 🙂  The outside of the hat is knitted, but on the inside it is lined with the softest fleece…plus they are very cute!  
  5. Lurvehette Neckwarmer:  As well as a hat for our little lady, they popped a neck warmer in as well for her.  These are so useful in the winter as you can pull them up high over your face as protection against the elements and more often than not the freezing biting wind.  They are very comfortable and soft.  The boys and I live in our neck warmers in autumn, winter, and spring, and I have a feeling she will do too now!

So, these beautiful clothes needed to be put through their paces, so off we headed into Swedish nature for our Friday afternoon weekly adventure.  I feel we certainly put the clothing through their paces as we spent three solid hours in driving rain with the children climbing trees, scrambling rocks, and crawling through very wet mud. So how did we get on?

Pros of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

  1. They certainly have not overstated the protection this clothing gives the child from the weather.  It was nothing short of fantastic.  The rain was just repelled by these garments and not soaked into the fabric at all.  The twins were so cosy too, they only had base layers underneath.  It was driving cold rain (only a degree or 2 too warm for snow) and blustery icy winds.
  2. The gloves are so easy for them to put on….a huge plus in mine and their eyes (twin 2 gets frustrated very fast with clothing that isn’t easy to manage).  Plus they too repelled the wet so well.  Often their gloves are soaked through by the end of a trip out as they are almost constantly touching wet objects…sticks, rocks, trees, sea water….but we might finally have found a pair that can go the distance (we haven’t before).
  3. We love the colours (not such a practical point!)
  4. They have such lovely detailing with the very cute Tiny Trolls embossing, as well as the reflective strips, and leather markings.
  5. They are very very warm, soft, and cosy.  
  6. The clothes are very cute and look good too.
  7. They are very robust and made to last.  My trio were climbing trees, scrambling on rocks and there was not a mark on the clothing.
  8. They dried fast from the rain and all the dirt seemed to just brush off, so they weren’t filthy after they dried.
  9. The hats were very comfy too.  I get frequent complaining about hats being “scratchy” so this is good, especially as they wear them for 6 months of the year.
  10. Our little lady found the neck warmer so cosy and she spent most of the afternoon tucked into it hiding from the weather.

Cons Of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

I have scrambled around to find some cons, but it wouldn’t be a balanced review if I didn’t 🙂

  1. It’s 2 pieces…..this is fine for 1 of them, but twin 2 will take any excuse to venture out without the bottom half on, so I am going to have to make sure that the staff are on their toes at school!  The all in one from Tiny Trolls don’t come large enough for my mini men.
  2. The trousers only come in the one colour….this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s nice for my twins to know whose is what at a glance.  Boys clothing is often so limited anyway that they do have lots that are the same, it’s just handy when it is different.  

Tiny Trolls clothing is fantastic and there really is “no bad weather” when you are wearing it 🙂

Children's winter outdoor clothing by tiny trolls of Norway, Tiny Trolls of Norway, Norway, Outdoor Clothing, children's outdoor clothing, winter clothing, children's winter clothing, www.mammasschool.co.uk

*We were sent the clothing from Tiny Trolls of Norway for free, to put through their paces and test, in exchange for writing the review.  All opinions are honest and my own*


On the Hunt for Bronze Age Rock Carvings.

So, off hiking into the woods we went today, as I started going along with my only resolution of the New Year….to explore the wider Sweden, now that I felt I had truly explored our island.  Although, I am sure it will still throw me some lovely surprises in the future!  The first place I wanted to head to was Hästhallen where there were some Bronze Age Rock Carvings.  Opposite the woods that they were in, is a nature reserve too, so I thought we could investigate that afterwards.


We were not disappointed.  Due to it being below freezing and in the middle of winter we had the historical site to ourselves 🙂 However, we did have to brush off quite a few pine needles from some of the carvings that were filling the grooves, being in the middle of a pine forest! These rock carvings were discovered in the mid 1700s and at the time the landscape was totally open.  They date back around 3000 years from the Bronze Age.  They depict ships, animals, figures, and the sun amongst other things.  The children were fascinated (and had a very rapid introduction into not trampling all over the rocks they were carved on!).

After spending some time taking photos and chatting about them, we decided to check and see if there was a geocache in the area, and there was…only about 130m from us!  Off we set, and with the clue written in both Swedish and English this time, we were fairly confident that we might find this one.  It was hidden in fab place in amongst rocks, and the children got it out easily.  There wasn’t enough loot for everybody to have something, so we decided to just add to it instead.  However, there was a travel bug on a keyring, that had originally travelled from Germany.  The idea is that you photograph where it has been, and then pop it into another geocache, and fill the details in online.  However, we aren’t really doing geocaching at that level at the moment.  We are keeping it simple while they are young, so we took a photo for our memories and put him back…..I don’t know when we’d next head out geocaching and I’d be very likely to forget him when we do!!  But we learnt something new and all three thought it was a great idea.  I am also loving that the mini men like signing their names too on the logbook…still surprises me!

We returned the geocache to its cosy location and headed back towards the nature reserve.  After a below freezing picnic…bbbbbrrrrr……we found a great rock field that the children had a blast playing in.  They made up imaginative scenarios, they pretended to make fires to drink their hot squash beside, and they generally scrambled and climbed everywhere!

So, our first destination has been explored.  I have definitely got one more planned for this week, before our little lady heads back to school next week.  Then we will just have to keep a little closer to home as we only have the afternoons to use, but still enough time to leave the island with her wonderfully early school finish times 🙂  Even the drive home was a stunner……

Crafty Home Based Day.

Today needed to be a home based day, with the job list growing larger!  This morning I needed to tackle cleaning the fire, which naturaly leads into hoovering the whole house!  Then there were other motherly tasks (yawn yawn), to be completed.  Thankfully, my three are all totally addicted to Hama beads, and decided to sit and do this for the majority of my admin.  Always easier to get through tasks when they are happy doing something without you!!  This photo shows a little of what they have been up to and making, although there are many, many, more that are dotted throughout the house, all over a period of just a few weeks!  They love it.  I love it much less when they tip the whole pot of beads onto the floor (by accident) which happened twice this morning….some lost under the piano for forever until we get our next mad moving idea!  Towards the end though they were all going a bit bonkers, and chasing and playing tag inside, so it was swiftly on with the snowsuit and boots, and thrown out the backdoor into the garden!  I was headed that way anyway, but it was clear they needed to get outdoors.

They whiled away a happy 2.5 hours while I gardened and Dadda started sorting the garage out and everything that was bequeathed to us in the move.  They love the sandpit that was already with the house, as well as using theirs, they play on the trampoline, and they run……yes, just run, round the whole house for good lengths of time!  I’ve come to realise there seems no point to this last game after watching it several times to try and work out what is going on.  It appears, one of them says, “lets do running round the house” and they do just that….run round the house in circles!! As it’s quite a spread out footprint for the house, it’s quite a big jog to undertake for as long as they do (though as their mother, I feel it is a great idea!!).

After lunch we were going to have a craft/annual afternoon.  They’d all got an annual (the little lady 2), for Christmas, and the mini men needed a little help with theirs, so we spent some time doing mazes, puzzles, dot to dots, and spot the differences in them.  We then moved onto the crafts they wanted to do for the afternoon.  Mini man no.2 had some dinosaur magnets to paint, and both twins still had their Tomtes from Santa to paint.  They enjoyed doing this, and actually started to mix some colours for themselves.  Twin 1 was using the worlds smallest paint palette for his, that I think the elves put in his stocking 😉 !!

It was a nice change after the brain exercise of the past 2 days involving microscopes and sewing machines, just to sit and watch them paint!  Christmas is quite exhausting for parents, making Lego, putting play mobil together so it’s functioning, and learning how to use various gifts so you can then teach the children to use them!!  Luckily, we now have a small break until the next birthday in February (depending on the creation ideas the little lady comes up with for the sewing machine!) 🙂


Nature’s Playground & Microscopes.

Now our severe windy storms of the past few days have passed, life in the outdoors can return back to a more normal routine, without fear of a tree falling on our heads.  One of my priorities at the moment is refining the twins’ cycling skills.  We put them on 2 wheels back in November where they just took to it like ducks to water.  However, like everything they do it was at 100 miles an hour, plus they had no stopping or starting skills, preferring to ride into a bush to provide the slowing down mechanism!  Our island is quite small, and sometimes it seems a bit silly to be driving somewhere on it, like the beach right at the other end. However, it would take us a long time to walk there and back.  So, if I can get them riding more safely before summertime, it could become a possibility to cycle there instead.  My aim is for them to practise starting, braking to a stop, and not whizzing off zig zagging out of control everywhere!  So today we headed down a wide track that we pretended was a road, and also practised staying on the correct (right) side of it….as you can see from the photos we still need to make progress in that area!!  It was a good start though and I just need to get them out more often. I use big sister as a pace setter, who when told not to whizz off actually doesn’t, and they are not allowed past her.  It takes quite a bit though to summon up the energy to take both speedy little men out at the same time!  We will get there though.

This afternoon we headed back to one of the best natural playgrounds I have ever come across, the main feature being our favourite tree that you can climb inside. The children spent a good while climbing the tree and the massive boulders, while the Kelly Kettle boiled away to make hot squash and we toasted some marshmallows.  I love this place.  The water is very calm and shows great promise for the warmer months in being a place where we can base ourselves on a rock all day, trying to catch mini beasts in nets, and wade around the shallow fjord.  The children love scrambling over the rocks, and climbing the tree.  They can climb up, across, and through the inside.  It is amazing for imaginative play adventures too.  Today, there was an extra play treat for them in the form of huge thick ice areas to break, pick up, throw, smash, and examine.  Oh, and the views aren’t too bad either 😉 You can’t help but smile, relax, and let nature restore some energy.

Once we were back home I had promised our little lady I would help her get to grips with her new microscope that she had got for Christmas.  We spent time learning (relearning for me!) how to obtain samples, make up sample slides, and then the best ways to view them.  We looked at various thread types, synthetic and non synthetic, onions, hair, and a sample from the inside of her cheek.  I think it is safe to say she is not only fascinated but hooked.  She is now equipped enough, hopefully, with the skills to get this out and indulge whenever she fancies, just asking the odd question, and it is something she can learn from and enjoy….now I am off to learn about the sewing machine!!


Holding onto the sun!

Follow On Pinterest!

I’ve recently been working really hard on ideas boards on Pintrest.  So, if you like what we do, or what we are about, hop over to Pintrest and have a look, under the people tab, at Mamma’s School (or type Mamma’s School into the search box).  I’ll leave a list below of my boards to see if one would take your fancy, and you either follow that board or Mamma’s School, you will hear about when I add new ideas to them 🙂  I’ll be adding to these boards a lot over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes on them!!  Here’s what boards we are compiling at the moment…..

30 days wild, outdoor crafts, nature play, home education, beach play, outdoors, forest school, Halloween, outdoor learning, nature quotes, VW, dinosaur home education, fairy craft, fairy home education, pirates home education, rock experiments, soil experiments, friction experiments, resistance experiments, gravity experiments, buoyancy experiments, magnet experiments, levers pulleys and gear experiments, stone age art, stone age study, iron age study, iron age art, roman art, exploring nature, science, Christmas activities and crafts, Sweden, Scandinavian Christmas, children sewing machine, beginners fishing, microscope activities, creative play, unplugged childhood, creative learning, beach classroom, garden classroom, and finally, play…….have a peak and enjoy some inspiration 🙂

Our First Swedish Christmas.

The idea of this Christmas was to embrace Swedish culture and tradition, and with three children in tow, we like to make it as stress free as possible so everyone has a good time 🙂  Here’s our Christmas weekend in photos.


Our destination for our first Swedish Carol Service

As the sun started to set at 3pm, we sat down to our lovely svensk julskinka, köttbullar, and huge sausage! Yummy

Double playmobil trouble!

Traditional dessert of savoury rice pudding, with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on the top or strawberry jam

Our Christmas tree now having an identity crisis after Santa delivering Swedish flags to hang on there with the Norwegian ones!!

Gorgeous Swedish gifts from Santa

Our bathroom has turned into a science lab! We have sea creatures growing and baby dinosaurs waiting to hatch.

we’ve brain washed our little lady…spontaneously making the Swedish flag from Hama beads!

On Christmas Day the table was fully laid with everything from cold meats, to cheese, to eggs, with other various delights on it as well. The aim was we all started lunch together (no one was hungry enough for breakfast!), then we came and went as we needed. This meant the children could enjoy their new gifts, I didn’t stress about making another huge meal, but could relax too, and above all everybody was happy and relaxed.

Looking forward to using Dadda’s Santa pressie to explore this beautiful part of the world

We brought the twins little tables out of their room for the day, so they could play with their new messy toys such as their Play-Doh ice cream makers, and any paints or pens, but the main table could stay laden with food for the day.

We’ve had a wonderfully laid back couple of days.  The children have been free to play play play with no expectations on them to comply to an adult timetable of events. Consequently Dadda and I have been able to be relaxed more, between Lego building marathons, and the children have been happy.  Right, I am now off to learn how to fish and use a sewing machine……..children’s gifts adding a new dimension to my parenting skills!!

Unstructured Play Time & Scandinavian Parenting

As a family and parenting duo, we are big advocates of providing unstructured play time, and this is even more important now that our little lady is off school for her holidays, and over what can be such a busy festive time.  We have found that unstructured play just seems to recentre our trio, and I know I have mentioned the topic in previous blogs, but I felt it was time to devote a whole post to the subject.  This is not only an ethos we follow with regard to their play, but also their learning, and I have drifted more and more away from structured learning methods since our little lady gave up school in the UK at the end of March, and it does seem to have paid off hugely.  Both in terms of learning enthusiasm and motivation, and also in progress.  Especially with our mini men who are now grabbing pens and writing “letters to post”, as well as signs, and just generally writing!  Something even 8 weeks ago, I wouldn’t have seen them choosing as an activity over something else such as sofa parachuting!  

There have been a couple of books I have read that have really supported this change in our parenting style and our enthusiasm for unstructured play.  “The Idle Parent” by Tom Hodgkinson is well worth a read, with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure.  “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne is another resource that is hugely informative, and one I keep by the bed to dive into to remind myself of things as and when I need to.  The last one is extremely popular at the moment, and one that I wholeheartedly agree with.  It is “The Danish Way of Parenting” by Jessica Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl, and whilst it is based on the Danes and their ways of living, this book could be written about the Swedes, and provides many of the reasons why we have chosen to bring our family up in Scandinavia and enjoy their lifestyle and culture.  Have a look at the website www.thedanishway.com and check out the secrets to raising happy children, who in turn become happy adults 🙂

The part I want to discuss in this post though is the importance of play…unstructured play that is child led.  Play is a very important method of learning (and one of our major reasons for boycotting UK schools).  Our little lady turns 9 in February, and yet here in Sweden she has only missed one year of school, and currently goes mornings only, which leaves children here, like other parts of Scandinavia, huge amounts of time to do what children do best….PLAY!!  Play decreases anxiety and increases resilience, something we have experienced first hand with our little lady.  She used to worry about everything…the perfect candidate to fall apart over moving country.  However, she now takes everything in her stride, has the confidence to put us in our place when we get things wrong, and above all has not only moved countries, but started a new school without speaking the language, mid term, and slotted in perfectly!  She may now be back in school, but she still has plenty of time to play, and takes full advantage of it.  The last 8 months have seen a huge improvement in her ability to go off and get fully immersed in some sort of imaginative play whether it be with Lego, dolls, trains, or something crafty.  As for the mini men, they are much more suited to the idea of playing full time until they are 7, as they are not designed to sit on their bottoms, in neat uniforms, being unquestioningly obedient…it’s just not in their DNA.  It doesn’t mean they are unruly, or naughty (although there is some of that 😉 ), it just means that they are being 5 year old boys.  We have not asked them to be square pegs trying to fit into round holes. We are letting them be themselves.  Even when they do start school, the Swedes, like the Danes, are focusing foremost on helping children be secure and happy in themselves, and have good self esteem…..all done through play.  They make this the priority.  Skills such as reading all level out in the end.  Why push them before they are ready?

This unstructured play needs rules for us grown ups too….we can only intervene when absolutely necessary.  This is something that would earn me a lot of parental black looks (from random strangers) in parks in the UK.  I would let my boys run up slides, providing there was no one waiting to come down.  I wouldn’t helicopter over them up a climbing frame while they swung from one arm, testing and learning their limits.  But I had to put up with a lot of burning ears and feeling like the worst mum ever, doing what I knew was right for them.  It also goes for disagreements too….now, I am well practised at this, as having a pair of twins there are a lot during their play, but by standing back and just offering guidance, I am teaching them to negotiate (even if it reaches screaming level sometimes), some self control (really crossing my fingers with this one!), and hopefully compromise and adaptation to various situations, with a little bit of decision making thrown in.

We don’t just stay indoors at home with conventional toys either.  Play can take place in many places.  My trio love turning rocks into pirate ships, beaches into small world play, and trees into climbing frames and finding natural playgrounds.  We found the academic pressure in the UK too much (and we were grown ups!), and the system was just teaching our children to think a certain way, rather than using their own initiative and problem solving skills….which play allows them to do.  In the UK we are trying to educate 4 year olds to fit into a country’s system now, that in 12 years time will in all probability be completely different!

The photos I have used in the post have been taken from today’s walk, where a dog chased two little boys (our little lady tried to do some of the walk on all fours), and they could see Octonauts in the fjord 😉  Imagination everywhere!!  And while they play, play, played this morning……I achieved this………….

See….there are benefits for the parents too 😉

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