Saturday, April 7, 2012

Playing with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Full Question: About how many hours a week did you personally play with your toddler/preschool children (especially at your house with toys)? What kinds of play are the most memorable to you or do you think were most influential for your children?


Rachel (and Bennett)
I did not send my children to preschool, so I spent plenty of time with them before they entered kindergarten.  I had four preschoolers at once, so it was like a preschool at our house.  I followed the schedule and ideas of Joy School by Linda and Richard Eyre to give some framework to our free time together.  Sometimes I played with them; often they played together while I worked, or they helped me do things around the house.  As far as the play goes, I played with them outside, played games inside, did puzzles, drew pictures, made crafts, sang songs, and read stories.  I took them when I went shopping or on other errands. I taught them about the world around us as much as I could.  It was a busy, hectic time, but I am glad for the time I spent with them, and I think they entered school with quite a bit of confidence.

Brianne (and Spencer)
I think playing together was one of the most important things we did with our children.

I probably played for 30 – 40 minutes total every day with my little ones. I did not sit down and just play for more than 10 minutes at a time, usually less, but my children were playing nearby so I could interact with them while I did my housework, laundry, cooking, and gardening.  Just a few minutes of my attention could spark their imagination and get them going.  A few questions and reactions could keep them happily playing on their own for quite a while.  When I needed to work in a different location, I suggested a new activity for them.  If I needed to scrub the tub, I let them fill cups in the bathroom sink.  Then they played in the tub while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom.  We talked and interacted a lot, so they thought I was playing with them while I worked.  We made up silly games so they could help me with chores and make it play, sometimes they tired and it made them happy to go play by themselves.

My daughter says “I remember playing on the floor with "mommy things" (pots, pans, Tupperware, cans, etc.).  I loved the feel of the bumpy kitchen tile.  I enjoyed dusting the furniture down low, you always said I did it the best.  I remember fishing out the living room windows!  I liked playing Barbies with you.  I also remember cooking, gardening, and dressing up together.  I loved it when you read and sang to us before bed.  I think that is my list. :)”

I don’t think I ever quit spending 30 minutes a day with each child until they were in high school.  It just transitioned into time working on their projects or just talking.

Anna (and Gerry)
I couldn’t even begin to guess how many hours I spent playing with toddlers.  It was a very busy time, and all I did, everyday, was kids.   My children’s days were spend with each other (4 preschoolers at one time), and of course, being refereed by Mom.  I think their most valuable play was the simple stuff--digging in the sandbox, making roads in the dirt, playing with dolls, cars and trucks, running through the sprinkler, making huts out of blankets etc.  Simple toys such as a bucket and a shovel, or a baby doll with a bottle,  gave hours of creative playtime to the children.  A fenced in yard was where they made their own fun.

Young parents today have much harder choices to make concerning their preschooler’s time.  We didn’t have the competition of computers, ipads, videos, endless television for children, or video games etc.—all good things, but because they are good things, it’s probably even harder to make those choices.

Simple is best!  

Marsha (and Richard)
We had a large family and most of what we gave our children was a great deal of love, support, and caring while providing for their health, welfare and happiness.  We always had meals together as a family and established a lot of family traditions. We worked together, learned the gospel together and pursued wholesome recreation together (wuffle ball games, swimming pool fun, park outings, combined dinners with friends and neighbors). We worked to provide a healthy, loving atmosphere for our children.  Most of our time was spent working toward these goals.  Much of our play was as a family in our yard with occasional outings.  We read stories, played board games, did puzzles and enjoyed other more active games.  We made cookies, sang songs and just talked as I did my work. 

Because there were many children, they played with each other and luckily we were in a neighborhood of families where children could easily play with one another.  We talked together while we worked, then rocked them, sang to them and read naptime and bedtime stories before they went to sleep. When they were a little older, each night I had personal “talks” with each one as they went to sleep, and sang primary songs to them.

I included them in what I was doing.  I took them with me to shop or run errands.  We were very much a part of each others' lives but that did not really include much time “playing together with toys”. We did very little of that.  My husband would wrestle with them, tickle them, play in the swimming pool, and share television time etc. He made the fun with his interactive play, while I created an atmosphere for them where, hopefully, they felt loved, nourished and safe. 

I feel like playing with toys is the children’s work and encourages independence and opportunities for them to learn, grow, imagine, etc. It helped them build relationships with siblings and friends.  We each had our work to do…adult work and children’s work.  While they did their children work, we modeled the adult work.

Marianne (and John)
It seems so long ago that I can't recall the playing in terms of hours.  As a mom I was usually multi-tasking with the preschoolers.  When I was cooking, they were helping me stir, crack the eggs, etc. or singing and telling stories while working, driving, etc.  I read a lot to them, played with them in the park and spent most of our summer days splashing in the swimming pool with them.  Their dad loved physical play with them, lots of ball throwing and rolling, playing horsie or just horsing around.  Any amount of time where you're both enjoying being together is great.  We also believed in a lot of appropriate physical contact such as hugs, tickling, wrestling, etc.  

Next week's question: How did you teach your kids to fast? How old were they when they were expected to do it, how did you encourage them when they didn't want to, and what did you do if they refused?

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