Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by The Parenting Center.
Play is essential for a child’s development and creating a nurturing play “space” to encourage and support play is important. While opportunities to grow and learn can happen spontaneously – anytime, anywhere – it is also important for your children to see parents engaged in things that are fun and interesting to them. Of course, creating a nurturing “space” does involve a little more than clearing out room in your home or dedicating a room as a playroom. “Space” refers to not only the physical space and objects for playing and learning, but also encompasses the time, attitude, and energy necessary for creating nurturing child-parent interactions. (Oswait, Reiss, & Dombeck, 2016)
When creating a nurturing play “space” remember:
1. It is important that whatever space is used at the moment is solely for the purpose of play.
All objects should be removed and put away to make room for the play that is going to take place. When using the kitchen table to create crafts and hands-on activities all dishes, centerpieces and other distractions should be removed.
2. Parents should be mentally, physically and emotionally present.
All distractions should be removed and the playful interaction with the child should be the only priority. Games are more fun when players are not waiting for others to stop talking on the telephone or searching the web. Even babies and toddlers can tell when a parent’s attention is divided and will lose interest or focus on the activity or interaction.
3. The space is enhanced when books, toys, musical instrumentals and other objects that encourage creativity and physical and mental growth are present.
The toys do not have to be electronic, complicated or run on batteries to be stimulating and useful. As a matter of fact, it’s better if they provide more options. Create your own toys by using regular household materials or purchasing them second hand from thrift stores. Borrow books from your local library.
4. Nurturing play should take place in a specific “space” at a dedicated time, but nurturing opportunities can happened inside or outside the home at any time.
By focusing your attention on your child and the shared experience, every experience is an opportunity for learning – and fun! Taking a walk around the neighborhood, riding in a car, standing in line at a grocery store.
Play is important and a critical part of all children’s development.
Parent-Child play in a nurturing play “space” presents opportunities for sharing of values, increases communication, and allows for teachable moments. Also, it allows the parent and child to laugh and relax together while developing bonds which can last a lifetime.
About Melanie Richardson, MSW, LMSW
Melanie Richardson, MSW, LMSW joined The Parenting Center as a Parent Educator in September, 2015. She received her undergraduate degree in business administration from University of Notre Dame and her master’s degree in social work from University of Pennsylvania. Before joining The Parenting Center staff, Melanie worked as Director of Northlake Youth Academy a psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents. Melanie shares in staffing the Metairie Center. She has one son.