Sunday, October 28, 2012

Enough Time To Play

It's an early morning, a school day morning.  Aidan has finished getting ready for the day ahead and I am trying to feed Devin without getting baby food everywhere.  Aidan settles right into playing with some of his action figures, but before he can execute his plans to save the world, it's time to leave.  He is not happy that he can't finish what he started.  His carefully laid out plans are interrupted.

The above example is a common hazard we run into everyday, it's a part of life.  Just when the plans are set and the stage is ready it's time to do something else.  There many transitions in a day; eating, traveling, school, appointments.  Time frames for going uninterrupted get shorter and shorter for children.  Setting up for play can take time and be just as enjoyable as the play itself, but if being interrupted becomes habit a child loses their chance to experiment and try out what they've prepared.  I know Aidan can continue his play after school, and ongoing play is great, but uninterrupted child-led time is important as well.  It allows for deeper focus and concentration, a chance to exercise social skills, and an opportunity to better comprehend what they are working on.

One afternoon Aidan picked certain paint colors, then squeezed out specific amounts as he immersed himself in a mixing experiment he started.  He told me about the subtle changes he noticed before the colors fully turned a new shade.  He painted pictures and mixed colors at the table for over an hour.

When Aidan builds with his blocks he usually puts more effort into creating scenes and structures, but sometimes he plays longer with the characters that play on them, making up elaborate and changing stories.  He wouldn't have the chance to finish a story or a structure if he didn't have that uninterrupted time.

One hour of uninterrupted play is a good minimum to incorporate the time it can take for children who are elaborate in setting up for their play.  Many child care centers use this time as well; typically called free choice or free play.  Montessori methods encourage two to three.  Whatever method your family or classroom follows, just be sure there is enough time to play, your child will thank you!


  1. ah yes... absolute truth in this. like that saying, "play is a child's work".

  2. Couldn't agree more! I love how kid's imaginations work and I hate stopping it prematurely. Sometimes you just have to, but I try to give him as much time as possible. I'm actually going to add this link to my post tomorrow because it fits beautifully with the post I'm preparing. Have I mentioned today how much I love your blog?

  3. Lovely piece. Thank you!


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