FOLLOW THE CHILD
You all do this; I know you do!
Remember when you let them have free reign over the Tupperware cupboard? That was because you knew your little one would enjoy it.
Remember when you went to the park? That was because you knew your little one would love it.
You know your child better than anyone else.
WHERE DO I START?
1. LEARN WHAT INTERESTS YOUR CHILD.
Listen, watch and then listen some more!
It might be as obvious as cars and trucks or it might be something harder to understand, like pulling everything out of the drawers! Either way they are showing you an interest.
The best way to learn what interests your child is to get down on their level, with no agenda other than to watch and support them. Remember when you took them to the park? Did they spend the whole time on the slide or did they play with the gravel on the path?
The Tupperware cupboard, what did your little one actually do? Once everything was all over the kitchen floor, were they trying to match the lids? Were they stacking the containers? Were they making music with them? Were they cooking or feeding themselves? What part of the Tupperware cupboard was making them feel happy?
When your child gravitates towards something, observe what they are doing. That is what interests them. It might be different to what you expect. It might not be how you would play. It might be ‘frustrating’ for you to watch (cue Evie emptying alllllllll the drawers!) BUT this is what gives them joy and is interesting to them.
2. LEARN YOUR CHILD'S SKILL LEVEL.
You know SO much about your child! You know if they can sit with stability, can stand, can lift, can talk, can mimic words, can pick up small objects the list goes on!
Can they pick up that speck of dirt you missed with the vacuum? (fine motor skills)
Can they open the kitchen cupboards? (Gross motor skills)
Can they find objects you have hidden behind your back? (Object permanence)
Do they know where their snacks are kept? (Problem solving)
Can they copy words and sounds? (Oral language)
All these are little milestones in their lives that are often over looked. That speck of dirt is amazing fine motor control, the object behind your back is great problem solving and object permanence!
Every child has a different physical and mental ability. This needs to be taken into consideration when engaging with them and offering play opportunities. This goes back to feeling successful. You do not want a task to be too hard for them!
Ok, so your know what your child likes and you have a grasp on their abilities. Now what?
Make their interests work, for you and them!
Evie pulling everything out of the drawers does not work for me. At all. So, I provide her with other opportunities to empty and fill containers. It might be a bucket of balls, it might be a shoe box of material scraps, it might be a bag with assorted toys in it.
Use their interests to challenge them as well. Mid-Tupperware-cupboard phase I made this colour sort for Evie. It was basic but she loved it because it involved transferring objects and putting them in and out of containers – her interests. Just like that I have one engaged little kiddo!
I AM STILL NOT GETTING IT, HELP!
All still sounds too hard and overwhelming?
Yup I totally get that, I have totally been there, and I still often go back there. Sometimes it feels likes as soon as I start understanding Aidan and Evie they go and change on me!
There is one more little secret I am going to let you in on and it is a good one. It sounds fancy. It sounds complicated BUT it isn’t.
It is called Schemas – it is this la-di-da word for the urges that children have to do things, like throw things, carry things, hide etc.
Do yourself a favour, click this link….
Look down the first column and I guarantee you will find the Author, Michelle Thornhill, describing your child. Next to that description you will find a ready-made list of all the different objects and toys your little one will LOVE to interact with!
I cannot take credit for this document, I did not write it! Michelle Thornhill did and I love love love love it. I think it so valuable in identifying the needs of your little one!
If you are ever stuck, if you are ever confused or just want to chat about play; slide into my DMs or shoot me an an email!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zara Demeris is the proud owner of THE PLAY CARD COMPANY™, a Melbourne Primary School Teacher, and mother of two. She is passionate about meaningful play and loves creating simple and engaging ideas for her little ones.
Now combining her passion for play with the world, Zara uses her children to inspire her creativity. When she isn't on the playroom floor, or packing orders you will find her reading books, enjoying the local parks and pottering in her garden.
If you want to keep up-to-date with the Zara's everyday happenings, follow the @theplaycard_co and tune into Zara-cam (a.k.a Instagram stories).