|Mini village created by children with imagination|
The idea of slowing down for our children is something to consider. Many times I am asked as a preschool teacher why the children are "Just playing" or how can children learn anything important in "Only four hours". I also hear about all the activities that are planned for the children. Explaining over and over all the wonderful benefits a child gets from playing freely, especially outside or with open ended toys. Children who are left to play develop creativity, individuality and a sense of self. Children who have lots of free play tend to be seen as leaders of play in the classroom. They already know how to role-play and create games, they are great role models for other children and often encourage play in a very interesting and creative direction. As a preschool teacher, I can see a huge difference in play ability between children who have long periods of free play and children who watch a lot of TV, spend too much time participating in grown up activities and are too filled up with classes and sports. Letting kids play allows them to define themselves, and deal with the stress of life and growing up, even when those stresses are beyond their understanding such as divorce, abuse or neighborhood violence.
As a mom myself, one who has been a single mom for all but two years of my parenthood, I had to learn to embrace the idea of slow parenting early. I remember having to rush from work to pick up the kids from daycare, rush to the store, rush to any appointments or classes, and often rush through dinner and homework. I was getting to sleep so late, and so were my children. I was rushed and stressed and while my children are very easy going flexible children, they were having more temper tantrums, more whining and we were not having any fun as a family. I began stopping at the park to play for 20 to 30 minutes before shopping and all the rest. It felt like a miracle when my children were happy and ready to help shop. The rest of the evening went so much smoother. All from just 20 to 30 minutes of free play and undivided attention from me.
A fellow teacher and mental health specialist told me it is like topping of the tank, you prevent your child from becoming attention empty. You give them 10 or so minutes all to them, no phone, no adult plans, just the child and following their lead. Then You have so much more time to get things done, and you have the benefit of feeling good about yourself as a parent.
|Created by an 8 year-old|
Trust me on this one, stop herding your kids to every kind of early introduction to life, they grow up so fast anyway, and it doesn't really make them better nor does it make them happier. Plus it feels so good to have a few minutes to let your child be a child.