What is play? Play is learning. Play is children’s life. Play is loving learning about life!

So, how can you create everyday play with your child? Well, here’s the great news: we already are. With every interaction we have with children; with all the normal, everyday experiences we share; with all the role modelling we do carrying out our usual daily routines and rituals. With all of these we are creating play.

Really? Yes, really. Let’s take a look at some examples:

I wonder…

When we allow ourselves to wonder, without need for the answer, we become open to other perspectives. Try sky gazing. Lay down somewhere comfortable to stare up into space. Even if no talking happens, you will share an enchanting time together. Seize opportunities as they arise to wonder together – what can we consider or dream about this moment, this happening?

I wonder how, I wonder why, wishing you wonder-full wondering.

The world is an orchestra

play with your child

A little story: A father and son were cooking together. Suddenly the boy tapped the bowl with the spoon. Dad answered the beat by banging the measuring cup on the bench. Another series of beats sounded from the boy and again the father answered. Within moments they were rocking out their cooking beats together, while beaming at each other 🙂

What music can you make during your daily tasks?

I’m so angry I could eat the sun!

play with your child

All of our feelings are valid; even anger. And even anger can create forms of play. Here are some ideas for experiencing and moving through children’s anger: breathing and chanting “Stop, calm, do no harm,” running, dancing and twirling. Really GET the anger. What could you DO with the anger – jump over a volcano?!

Have fun practicing GETTING angry so that when it happens for real, it may just turn into play.

Adventures near and far

play with your child

“Feel the fear and do it anyway!” A story: The adult was on one side of a thick row of bushes. The children were on the other. “Where are you?” they called out to each other. The children tried to get to the other side, scrambling under the bushes with much laughter, sand and scraped arms. They headed home still talking about it with twinkles in their eyes.

Happy adventuring together.

P.S. Anything can be made into an adventure with a flash of magic from the eyes!

The gift of touch

play with your child

When touching others with love we are acknowledging their right to be there, our love and respect for them, and the beauty of this special moment together. Try pizza massages (where you “make a pizza” with your hands on someone’s back, arm or leg), sensory enhancers such as smells (lemon, lavender), textures or different heats, foot baths, or ask for a massage from your child!

Wishing you much delight in being with each other in this moment.

Back to the earth

play with your child

Reconnecting with nature is a most relaxing form of play. Another story: Two friends were sitting outside in the sun, talking and pulling out weeds. A young child joined in without encouragement, perhaps assuming from the adults’ actions that “this is what you do when out in the garden talking.”

Happy earth-play to you.

The life of our food

play with your child

We are what we eat. Let’s consider what our food was before we chose to eat it. Discuss this with children. Check the back of packets together. Head off to market. Find local and seasonal food. Explore the journeys of your favourite foods. Get on location. Show gratitude for the plants and animals that make up the food we eat. There is so much fun (and therefore learning) to be had as we explore what we put into our mouths.

May the life of our food be transformed into magical play.

The rhythms of the earth

play with your child

Humanity is inextricably linked with nature’s cycles. Ideas for experiencing our planet’s rhythms: get up tomorrow morning before the sun rises – enjoy the moment, engage in silence, smiles, crazy dancing, as you wish; create rituals for each season; Matariki star gazing; Spring cooking. “There’s a crumble for every season” – Sophie Best, 9.

Feel free, feel alive, inspired by the heavens and the seasons.

Many hands make light work … eventually

play with your child

Working together to maintain the home we share empowers our feeling of belonging and builds a real sense of responsibility. Ideas for inspiring enjoyment and action with household tasks: sing a happy working song; let children do the dishes or wash their clothes; support children to create a tasks roster. Consider that we do, they watch; we do, they support; they do, we support; they do, we relax (well, maybe…). Babies through to teens can have fun-filled involvement in normal, everyday tasks.

Remember, success hinges on our expression of enjoyment so sing that happy working song with all our tasks 🙂

A life of dance

play with your child

One of the most connecting times we can have with another person is being held close to them as we dance. Ideas for experiencing life’s dancing opportunities: “May I have this dance?” Share the lead. Let go! Crazy fun dancing! Anytime! Anywhere! Anyhow! Move like the wind swishing through the trees, birds flying, raining falling. Assist the world in understanding who we are and what being alive is all about.

Dance as if there were no tomorrow. Dance now!

What other everyday play will emerge for you and children you spend time with?

I wish you a splendid time loving learning about life together.

Adapted from taster excerpts out of her new book “Changing the World is Child’s Play”

“Changing the World is Child’s Play” is available from the publisher, Ako Books, or on request from Paper Plus stores.

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Sarah Amy Glensor Best moved away from a corporate career a decade ago to become a stay at home Mum. Since then she has been learning alongside her three daughters at Playcentre; become a kaiako/educator for Brainwave Trust Aotearoa; written numerous articles and opinion pieces; published her first book “Changing the World is Child’s Play” and started an education business focussed on children, parenting and play – Children Change. Sarah lives in Wellington with her family.

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