The Blog

Play Teaches Skills That Aren’t Just Academic

Days like today, I’m so glad I always take heaps of photos of my children’s play. Tuesdays are hard days for me as the hubs work the afternoon-late night shift so basically I do the entire crazy witching hour before dinner time on my own, then dinner, bath and bedtime routine for both kids, with a bump that’s just getting bigger by the day.

After finally putting both girls down for bed tonight, I was so physically and mentally exhausted and honestly couldn’t remember much of the day’s events. They all kind of just melded together in a blur. Did I yell a lot today? Felt like I did. Did I even clean up much today? Felt like I did. But the house still freaking looks like the aftermath of a tornado. And why does the floor still feel so sticky even though I’ve cleaned it?! Ugh!

And then I lie down finally for a break and look at photos I took today (as you do 😆) and find these couple of pics from earlier in the afternoon, that witching hour I was talking about and everything came flooding back.

Miss 2 and I were creating our own small worlds while sitting side by side (and Miss 1 was just tearing the playroom apart haha). She was working on the rainbow tunnel playscape and creating houses for gnomes and I was working on the blue playscape. I had just put a couple of animals down on my play silk and was making a path with wooden blocks for the baby elephant to walk across. Miss 2 glanced at what I was doing and came to my side shouting “no no no no! i don’t want you to make a path mummy”. I maintained that I wanted to keep the path and of course, a meltdown ensued.

I didn’t stop her. I let her scream the house down until she was spent and calmed down on her own. I then told her that I knew she was upset and didn’t like what I was doing, but it was MY creation that I was working on and I could add whatever I wanted to it, but if she would like to join me and work together on my creation with me, she could and I would be happy for her to add whatever she wanted to it as well. And so she added a bridge connecting her playscape to mine, and added a lioness, and then some mirror and rainbow blocks as food troughs for the animals. 

I see these photos and I realise this exhausting day wasn’t for nothing. Even if I didn’t have this photo to remind me, I had spent the day playing with my children. I had helped my child navigate some big emotions. I had helped her to see that while I love her to bits, the world does not revolve around her and that other people’s needs matter too and that other people have the right to do whatever they thought is best. I didn’t particularly care for that path, but I wanted her to learn (and she’ll learn that even more when her sister becomes old enough to make her opinions known) how to be confident in expressing her own ideas, to learn different ways of contributing to collaborative play, all while listening to others’ ideas, respecting a difference of opinion and the different ways of doing things and to develop skills for practicing coexistence in a community.

Would you have stood your ground like I did, or given in to your child because it’s “just play”?

Play is useful for teaching so many different skills, and it’s not just limited to those that are academic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.