To reflect on how families have adapted during the coronavirus pandemic, Playgroup Victoria has shared 10 lessons about making the most of playtime at home.
Author: This is a guest blog by Joanne Tarasuik and Sinead Halliday at Playgroup Victoria, a not-for-profit association helping all Victorian families discover the benefits of playgroup and play in a child's early years of development.
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (24 November 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
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Why is playtime so important for kids?
Playgroup Victoria want parents to know that play is not just about fun or giving adults some time to themselves, it’s a critical part of kids’ development.
“Play has the unique ability to encourage children’s curiosity, to ask questions, to problem solve and to try things out,” said Joanne Tarasuik and Sinead Halliday in the submission they wrote for this blog.
“Play leads children to new discoveries, to sharing, to communicating ideas. It creates moments of joy and most profoundly of all, it creates connections.”
So while 2020 has challenged us all, the home environment has opened opportunities to learn more, often requiring very little.
“A silver lining of the extended period at home has been the great opportunity to reflect on what is most important to us. We have learnt more about ourselves and each other with more time to bond and create new ways to play and entertain ourselves.”
- JoanneTarasuik, Playgroup Victoria
10 lockdown lessons about kids’ playtime at home
1. Make the most of household items
We all had to be resourceful during lockdown. Luckily many household objects can be used in play and to make things. You can always try creating homemade craft supplies using things commonly found in the pantry, building a cardboard cubby house or mixing up a batch of play dough.
2. Create rituals and routine
As humans, we like to have reassurance and something to depend upon. For children, this is especially beneficial. If you’re able to incorporate a daily walk and outside play, enjoy mealtimes together, and finish each day by reading some storybooks, the routine can fuel play. Turning everyday activities into games that can become part of your routine also gives you more opportunities to bond and share different moments each day.
3. Participate and play
Social interaction is vitally important. It allows us to share, bond, gather ideas, seek resources and get different perspectives. It’s also fun. If you can meet up with a friend for a walk or meet another family at the park when it is safe to do so, do it! Watching your children play while you enjoy a takeaway coffee with your friend, allows you to forge connections and feel part of something, while also unwinding and enjoying some fresh air. Or you can jump online and join a Playgroup at Home session, or Zoom with family and friends if lockdown or scheduling doesn’t permit otherwise.
4. Get Creative
Making and creating is great fun and allows children to practice their skills. It’s also a great way to buffer stress to have a task to focus on. You could make homemade door charms, paper plate animals, slime or colourful moon sand.
Learn more tips on getting creative with kids in our blog How Parents can support kids’ creativity at home
5. Enjoy Making and Baking
Using our hands helps to calm a busy mind and cooking can be very relaxing and fun for little ones. You could make tacos together, fruit kebabs, or make a fun savory snack to share. Make a cake or bread and deliver it to a friend’s house. Or you could make a card for grandparents or friends who could use an extra dose of kindness.
6. Feel the music
Music sweet music! Enjoy singing some nursery rhymes together, dance to some of your favourite songs, put on some music in the background to create a positive atmosphere or put on some soft music to calm before naptime. You could make musical rain sticks or unwind with some musical meditation.
Good deeds help us to reflect on what is important and what we value. Kindness allows us to be empathetic and considerate and teaches children about the importance of caring for others and being a compassionate person.
8. Dress up and try something new
Variety is the spice of life, or so the saying goes! Using your imagination and incorporating pretend-play in the everyday is not only fun, but also allows children to practice what they are learning. Create different characters, dress up with homemade costumes, make up a story, create your own set for a play, make a mud tea party, a cubby or a fairy village.
9. Enjoy a dose of Nature
Relax in and explore your garden or local green space. Lie down on the grass and watch the clouds seeing what shapes and characters you can see, make your own flower artworks in the garden, create a nature collage, enjoy a fluffy foam bug hunt and discover more of your local area by playing human camera.
10. Schedule in some quiet time
Taking time to slow down and rest is important as it allows our bodies and brains to restore and process information. Try weaving meditation, yoga, calm stretches or soft music into your day. Read a book, listen to a relaxing podcast or watch a calming TV show. Taking this time allows you to recharge and reset.
Discover play inspiration at Playgroup Victoria’s Playgroup at Home page. Download activity booklets, join our playgroup sessions online and explore our play sheets.