Play is an extremely important part of childhood. However, not just any play: not television and computer games (even educational ones), video games, or other electronics. I’m talking about the seemingly lost art of play: imagination, and creativity which seem to be a thing of the past.
I’ve been reading some great books on adventures for boys and how to encourage their ingenuity and playtime. I have been attempting to find other ways to encourage our son’s playtime away from toys that have batteries, make sounds, or only have one purpose. Once I realized how fancy our toys have become, I realized this was a lot harder than I originally thought! But starting early with teaching our son to use his imagination and creativity in his play will eventually lead him to doing and creating, and going out on adventures of his own.
So what does this look like in everyday life?
- Turn off the television, computers, and video games. Research has shown that too much screen time stifles creativity and attention span.
- Take a look at the kinds of toys you have in your home. You don’t need to necessarily “get rid of” them, but take away a good chunk of the commercialized toys with lights, sounds, and batteries for one month.
- Set out toys that force imagination, creativity, and thought. If your child is used to being “entertained” with fancy toys this might be hard for them. You may need to teach them how to play, how to imagine.
- Have outside time every day!
Young toddler/preschooler: wooden puzzles, blocks, wooden animals, craft materials, cars and trains (but they create their own roads and bridges), and good books! Take them outside with a bucket and show them how to observe nature and “find things.” Have them collect interesting things in their buckets and talk about them. Let them show them to another family member later in the day.
Young elementary/older elementary: nature books- have your children go outside and collect interesting things and look for interesting birds or creatures. Look in nature books to find out what they are and draw them in their books. And best of all, get a book such as The American Boy’s Handy Book and The Dangerous Book for Boys and see the ways your child’s creativity and ingenuity come alive! It teaches them kite making, home-made boats, camping, dogs, paper airplanes, tying knots, marbles, tree houses, snow forts, sledding, and more! It even has many indoor activities as well! (These books also have versions for girls!)
It'll be fun to see all the things our children create, imagine, and do!