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How to Teach Play- #2 What Should We Expect from Our Children?


What Should We Expect from Our Children?

"Where are your kids? Playing? They are toddlers! I swear they could play for hours on their own. How can I get my kids to do that?"

This is something I have heard numerous times. Parents love their children but want them to be able to go play by themselves sometimes. It is a very important skill for numerous reasons but in the minds' of most parents the most important reason is a moment of piece and quiet! 

Children learn through play and then use play to occupy themselves. They should be able to play alone and with others. The goal for play is to get "Lost in Play." To be Lost in Play is when a child is so deeply playing he/she may not be able to hear you call their name- the world around them stops. This is when the real learning is happening and this is when true play is happening. When our children are lost in play they do not want to be disturbed. Calling them to dinner is the end of the world. It is usually not something that happens within minutes of toys being pulled out, it takes time. THIS IS WHAT WE SHOULD EXPECT FROM OUR CHILDREN!- Being Lost in Play.

Is this happening in homes across our country? Do children have time or the ability to get lost in play or are they "borrrred"? As a teacher, I cannot tell you how many third graders I knew that could not play. Whether it was indoor or outdoor recess, kids did not know what to do. I feel children need to be given the time and space to play. With a little help these third graders learned to play. 

Our children can learn to play before third grade and can love to play for years and years. You can wipe that "I am bored" statement right out of their vocabulary. So what can we expect?

With a little guidance your toddler, yes as young as toddlers, can learn to play for an extended amount of time and get lost in play.  You could walk out of the room and your child could not even notice. You can do the dishes, make dinner, have a conversation on the phone without interruptions. 

Depending on the maturity and development of your child you can expect to see this level of play as early as 18 months. Before this age a lot of toddlers need to "check-in." They need to be able to see their caregiver and show-off what they are doing. They need you for vocabulary and modeling. Their play, in the early days, is more about exploring. 

After around 18 months (depending on the child), they have the ability to delve into play. You can start to teach play before this age at a minimal level but after 18 months is the prime time to teach and model play at a more extended level. 

Next in the Series: How Do I Teach Play? 


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