When my kids were younger we spent a lot of time at home. I had three kids in 3 ½ years so there was a lot of time spent at home for naps, laundry, etc. We were a part of a playgroup at different times but this was for my benefit more than for the kids as I needed adult contact. At this time, my kids worked hard at playing. They took care of their dolls. They had tea parties, made roads for their trucks, built homes for their stuffed animals, they built forts, etc. They did watch TV, but no more than 1-2 shows per day. It was fun to watch them grow and their games develop as they got older.
Now that they are all in school, I am sad to say that they don’t play like that anymore. Between school, swimming lessons, gymnastics and homework there are not long stretches of time for them to pull out their toys. When they do have free time they are always begging to play on the computer or watch TV. They are looking to be entertained rather than entertain themselves. As a result of this, I am on a mission this summer: a mission to help my kids learn how to play again. This is why my kids are not spending much time in camp this summer like most of their friends. (Granted, as a preschool teacher, I have the luxury of being home with them in the summer to make this work.)
The first two weeks were rather painful with my 5 year old asking to watch a show about every 20 minutes. But now we have settled in. We are spending most mornings this summer at home with the television off. The kids are spending time inside and outside just playing. They are playing games with each other, having stuffed animal sleepovers, reading books, building with MagnaTiles and Legos, playing with their dolls that have been sitting untouched for a while. They are learning how to play again. I have not heard the words “I’m bored.” in about 2 weeks. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing them get creative and work as a team. The afternoons are also spent playing, mostly at the beach. We also use this afternoon time to go to museums, go bowling, see friends, do crafts, bake, etc.
Now that I have seen the success of this summer, I will make sure to leave unscheduled time in the fall for playing. Playing is truly a skill and I don’t want it to get lost again.