“A Child’s Work Is Play”

Growing Years“A child’s work is his/her play.” As parents, grandparents and caregivers, we strive to create opportunities for our child to meet his/her maximum potential. To this end, assist your child in creative play, as the more creative the play, the greater the intellectual growth. Encourage creative play through “play schemes.”

“Play schemes” are defined as “little plays” created in the imagination of a child. Toys or props are used to enact his/her plays. Plays can be either simple or very complex. Our goal is to help our child develop “play schemes” increasing the complexity as he/she gets older. For example, when you first give your child a car, he/she will simply turn it over and over, touching it with hands and mouth (exploring). Later, the car will be rolled and pushed while playing. Next, a noise is added, and than a play figure in the car as it rolls along the floor. And finally, other toys are added, making play more complex. It is important not to skip a play stage. Your child must be allowed to explore and play, in more simple ways, with objects, before entering the world of complex “play schemes”. You are his/her guide. You lead… your child imitates. So, take time to play with your child, the benefits will be great.

“Play schemes” in the preschool years, should be more complex. With your help, your child’s imagination will explode. This is the time for the “little play boxes” to appear. These boxes are simply props put together in a box or bag to encourage a specific “play scheme”. There are as many “play schemes” as there are imagination. Never limit your child in what can be played. Simply put the boxes on the floor and let their imagination go to work. If your child wants to include other toys, great, it means the wheels are turning and cognitive growth is taking place. Help your child start and then follow his/her lead.

Here are three “play boxes” to jump start your imagination:

1. Circus: stuffed animals seen at the circus, tape to make rings, balls, bells, clown clothes, ringmaster clothes, home made megaphones, drums, marching band instruments, music player, hoops for the animals to jump through, boxes of all sizes for the animals to sit on.

2. Hospital or family: Old clothes for adults, hats, stuffed animals and/or babies, bandades, doctor kits, baby blankets, diapers, bottles, cups, spoons, bowls, things you use to help with their “boo boos”, boxes for beds, play food, old containers. old containers, laundry baskets (great cars and wagons).

3. School, office or store: paper, crayons, books, rulers, black boards (small slates), letters, numbers, cards, adult clothes, stuffed critters (students/workers), food or objects to sell, play money (print on line), cash register or box for money.