Tips For Encouraging Imaginary Play
1. Eliminate one after-school activity per week.
Or every child could be limited to one activity each week. You can also keep a weekend day free of any commitments and give some downtime to the entire family.
2. Schedule some free playtime.
Instead of scheduling organized sports, which can place lots of pressure on children to compete based on adult rules, you can schedule some time at the playground or an afternoon to just look for roly-polys, making forts, climbing trees, or running around. If you join another parent, it can also turn into a social event for adults as well.
Author Stuart Brown says that deficiencies in play can cause a number of different problems including being unable to interact well with peers, classroom behavioral issues that involve violence, childhood depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and obesity among other issues.
3. Give your children open-ended toys to play with.
Building sets, legos, animals, dolls, trains, cars, hats, dress-up clothes, as well as arts and crafts supplies are only some toys that require essential input from a child to bring them to life. Outfit your next galactic party with any of our LED swords. Stay away from media characters from shows that children are already familiar with (It is far too tempting for them to repeat familiar scenarios.)
4. Show them the way it is done.
Most parents don't want to make-believe for hours on end with their children - and you shouldn't need to. However, you can get the kids started by picking a truck or stuffed animal up and saying in an animated tone of voice "our elephant friend has fallen into some quicksand. We need to go save him," or " Want my mommy" to get things rolling. Your kids can take things over from there.
5. Seriously limit your children's screen time.
A recent study conducted by MIT researchers found that play - being able to experiment with your surroundings - is a type of problem-solving. It is the most important skill that will be needed to utilize technology effectively in the future.
It might seem not seem possible, but according to a survey conducted last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids these days on average spend 7 hours and 38 minutes per day in front of a screen.
Your new goal could be 30 minutes to one hour of screen time per day. With all of the various activities vying for children's time (including the often-overlooked sleep), the final resort should be video games and TV. To further reinforce this, you can avoid screens being used on playdates as entertainment and reduce the number of times your kids see in front of a screen.
6. Get your kids out of the house.
On nic days you may need to force your kids to go play outside, even when they don't feel like it. You can invite their friends over if that helps, or do some things outside at the same time such as gardening, weeding, raking leaves, or shoveling snow.
- give the kids food colors for dying the snow or give them supplies for making a snowman
- let them have their own picnic
- bring out lots of sleds, shovels, plastic animals, or trucks
- encourage them to make fairy houses out of leaves and bark
- ask them to find as many dandelions as possible (or pinecones, special stones, or icicles)
- give them buckets for making sandcastles or install a basic sandbox in your backyard
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