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I'm Susan Wright

Podcaster, Author, Digital Marketer, Educator, Dreamer, Mother and #1 Most Curious Human (Really). I’m glad you’re here. Now let’s get to work.

The Importance of Play for Children

A JUMPING OFF POINT FOR GROWTH

Knowing that children grow best through play, parents must think intentionally about the environments that best support play. It is in these spaces, both indoors and outdoors, that the experiences children have become the jumping off point for their growth. In order to nurture holistic growth and support opportunities for rich everyday experiences through play, we must think carefully about where and how we invite children to play. By inviting children to freely explore environments that offer new experiences, we support children’s aptitude and desire for unique and fresh explorations that naturally lead them down pathways of wonder, curiosity, and learning.

RICH ENVIRONMENTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

As parents, taking time to be thoughtful about the spaces you welcome children to explore makes a difference. You enhance the play experience for children simply by creating spaces that invite rich play to the life of children. It is critical that you take time to be intentional about environments for play, as these choices have the potential to evoke (or limit) the natural curiosity of children. By offering carefully selected environments that offer the freedom to explore in open-ended ways makes for a more enhanced play experience for your children.

CHILDREN INVEST IN THEIR OWN PLAY

By including open-ended and accessible materials within a space that offers the flexibility to move, explore and work, children become more invested in the play. Through this investment, children’s growth, creativity, and innovation unfolds and children take a deeper dive into their own self-chosen and self-directed play. When children have the time and space to freely explore such rich environments along with the relationships therein, they become more engaged and empowered through these explorations of play.

BUT DON’T I NEED TO MAKE PLAY HAPPEN?

As parents creating, offering, and supporting spaces that invite rich play does not mean that you need to plan and facilitate play for your child. Nor does it mean that you must observe or engage in the play with them through every breathing moment ~ although at times you will join in. On the contrary, self-chosen and self-directed play nourishes a sense of autonomy in children. It establishes a sense of independence, and helps children discover what magic lies within their own curiosity, wonder, creativity, and explorations.

THE ROLE OF A PARENT

Your role as a parent is not to create or direct the play but instead, it is in the best interest of your children to invite them to spaces and environments that welcome and enrich play encounters. Consider yourself an advocate for play. Discovering, creating, and one day collaboratively constructing play environments together with your children each add more depth to the overall investment in play for both you and your children.

When your children are developmentally ready to co-create a shared vision of play together with you, you will be modeling how to share in meaningful and collaborative ways with one another. You will nurture in your children the ability to communicate and reflect on what it is that brings a joyful and engaging experience to everyday play. You will help your children become more skilled at self-directing their own learning and creating conditions that empower them to be creators, inventors, researchers, and independent thinkers. Your children will develop a plethora of life skills that will help enable them to work thoughtfully with others while committing to their own journey of discovery and growth through play.

In the beginning when your children are young and still learning what makes for a rich environment, you may wish to choose to make and model these choices for your child. This is an important part of the learning process that emerges from play. Co-constructing play environments and determining what preferences are included is another layer that can be eventually added to the experiences you share with your children. In the beginning, however, you may choose to start this journey by making and modeling these choices for your children. Consider yourself an advocate for play throughout all stages of exploration with play environments as well as play itself.

PLAY IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF CHILDHOOD

Additionally, by making and protecting time and spaces for play you are modeling for, and advocating on behalf of your children that play is a necessary and essential part of childhood. These are two of the most important things you can do for your children.

NURTURE A PLAYFUL PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE

When you make your beliefs known and you live by your philosophy each day, you are laying the groundwork for how your children see themselves; essentially, you are nourishing a positive self-identity from within. These family-held beliefs will become a part of your child’s life, their identify, and their way of being. Your philosophy and the actions you take to breathe life into it everyday will shape the perspective your children hold about themselves and childhood as whole.

When you help your children appreciate the value of the environments in which they play, you are nurturing a playful philosophy for life. This belief system will remain with your children throughout their days and help to nourish their overall health and well-being.

In light of this big picture perspective of the relationship between childhood, play, and life, we are reminded that it is not for parents to ‘create the play’ but rather to present children with a the environments, time, opportunity, and philosophy of play that supports an everyday, open invitation to inspire what comes most naturally to them ~ and that is play.

As always, I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Susan

Founder ~ Nurtured Inspirations
nurturedinspirations.com

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THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY FOR CHILDREN

WHAT IS PLAY?

Play is freedom. It is the authentic way of the child. It is where the vital connection to learning occurs. Children learn best through play; it is where wonder, curiosity, new thinking, and rethinking occurs. For children and adults alike, play happens when we are engaged in something we choose and direct ourselves. It is where the whole being of a child comes to life. Play is a place of joy; not simply the kind that appears in the form of smiles and laughter but more deeply, play is a place where children are free to explore the world around them.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

When we think of play there are many words and phrases that come to mind. Some of these might include: wonder, exploration, and questioning. We might observe children trying out new ideas, making mistakes, adjusting for mistakes, persevering to solve a problem, building self-confidence, and taking risks. Play is where children explore relationships; between themselves and others, materials they choose, and the spaces in which they interact. Through play children make comparisons, develop new understandings, create their own theories, and grow holistically as human beings. It has been said that play is the work of the child.

PLAY HELPS NURTURE THE WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN

As social beings, connected emotionally and physically to our world, play nurtures us. Morally, spiritually, and intellectually, play ignites opportunities for new understandings. Through a connection to nature, play offers children the gifts of wonder and discovery; a place to ask questions and build connections to the natural world. In these ways, we can say that play is a critical part of the well-being and holistic development of the child.

THE PERFECTION OF PLAY

As a way to frame the holistic needs of children, I talk a great deal about the seven pillars of well-being. By nourishing each of these pillars in ways that align with the developmental needs of children, parents nourish a meaningful and engaged experience in life. When children feel connected to all that makes them whole, their human spirit can soar. As we know, it is through play that children come to know themselves, others, and the world around them, making play a perfect platform to empower children’s holistic well-being.

THE MAGIC OF PLAY

Through my work with children for over three decades and counting, I have observed some of the most magical moments one could wish for while in the presence of children. In terms of children’s growth, creativity, and innovative ideas that emerge from play, is often so profound that it leaves me in deep thought for days, months, and even years. Working alongside children, parents, and educators, I have watched the unfolding of deeply connected relationships emerging through play. It has been a blessing to have observed the freedom that play brings to children while watching the possibilities of play unfold.

ENDLESS PATHWAYS

I have listened to the wonder of children, pondered their questions alongside them, and embraced the profound depth of thinking that emerges through play. Through the years of sharing these moments with children, I have discovered the pure joy that play can offer. For it is through play that children find endless pathways upon which to wonder, question, communicate, think, and create. Play offers children endless possibilities to come to know themselves, others, and the world around them.

A QUINTESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE

More than any other form of learning, play is the quintessential experience that children need most. It is one of the most perfect ways for parents to nourish the whole being of children, and for children to do the same for themselves. It is necessary, therefore, that as parents, homeschoolers, and educators, we create conditions that support children’s play. Starting with our understanding and philosophy, we can nourish a culture of play that shines through the everyday moments we share with our children.

I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Susan

Founder ~ Nurtured Inspirations
nurturedinspirations.com

 

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