Monday, September 28, 2015

The importance of playing with our children, as parents and educators

As children and as adults, playing games develops our skills. Unfortunately, the free play in the Western world is constantly decreasing.
Studies show that the more the free-play time decreases, there is also a decrease in empathy, social, understanding each other (emotions and needs) etc., and an increase in anxiety and depression might be common.

In this post I would like to elaborate on the advantages of playing with your children - both your own kids and the kids you educate.
Playing a mutual game with the children entails lots of opportunities in it to get to know each other better, to develop intimacy, completing challenges together, learning from a role model, joint frustration and success' etc.
When an adult plays with children their connection, bond and attachment are better, and the place of the adult in the child life is bigger and more important, which eases the whole boundaries issue.  

Here are some general "rules":
1. Play, and a lot - box games, Imagination games, outside games (football, catch the ball etc.), road games while travelling and any other kind of game you like. You are invited to share with us what are your favorite games.

2. Find mutual activities from different areas such as reading, riding, cycling, running, hiking etc. (Allow your children to get to know your inner world, and try to learn some about their inner world).

3. Remember the joy of tickles and peek-a-boo games with babies and toddlers? Children seek contact, it varies according to their age, but you know your children: hug them, play with them, roll in the grass with them etc., as long as you all enjoy the activity and the contact.

4. Choice - Involve the children in the decision, present them with several options and let them choose. If there is a large number of children, it can be practiced as a democratic choice where the majority vote counts. It is highly advisable to vary the choice every few weeks.

5. Always remember that a game is a protected place, but it is also a place where one can learn to cope with rules - not to cheat, how to lose without having a fit, how not to frustrate your fellow players....
Adapt your level and and flexibility to the children's level, in order to create an harmonic atmosphere where all are equal - a true sense of realistic winning, along with a true sense of realistic losing. If you will always allow your child to win, he will turn into a sore loser while playing with friends, and will be more likely to throw a fit with any failure. Children need to also learn how to lose.

6. There is a constant rise in the game and the child abilities - At first, children love to cooperate. It's a great stage to show them how it's done properly, learn some team work etc.
Children love competition - don't rush it - it will come at their own pace. At the early stages it is more important to teach them how to win, how to lose, and how not to be insulted from any of the results.

7. Enjoy, really enjoy the game. If you play with a full heart and intentions and not just "go through the motions" your children will sense it, and will appreciate it more.

8. Talk with them after the game - how did they feel, how was it, did they enjoy, what didn't they like....don't forget to share your feelings too. A mutual open conversation is much more productive and teaching to the children than any theory of - "it's important to tell us everything" "no secrets" etc.

9. The game level should be appropriate to the children age - you can always make some adaptions, such as:
a. the "Picolino" game is for children from the age of 4+, but eliminating the the crying clowns cards allows children from the age of 3+ to play it.
b.Playing catch - the older the child the bigger the distance, at first you start by rolling on the ground, then throwing in the air etc.

10. Turn off your cell phones while playing. Thank you :)

Enjoy , and if you have good tips- share them with us :)
Thank you

you can read more:

Ken Robinson - out of our minds, chapter 9.

Peter Gray.

All the posts and materials belongs to togi let's play, and the writer ©

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