Did your child get any valentines? This is a rather unusual one, it’s a valentine from PLAY to a child.
The valentine says, “I want to play with you!” In the part that says ‘From’, instead of a name, there is a mirror made out of foil and shaped like a heart. The message is that play comes from the inside, not from a toy, not from somebody else, but from within the child. According to an unknown expert, “Children are wired for hands-on, full-contact, self-selected interaction with the world.” This is a great description of play and it’s reassuring to know that it’s built right in.
Much of what children do as play is to imitate what they see the adults around them doing. This could be talking and texting on the phone, looking at a book, stirring with a spoon, scribbling on a paper, putting things in a drawer, driving in a car, snuggling a baby, and more. Some of their play is, of course, things that they Never see us doing, like throwing a toothbrush in the toilet, coloring on the walls, or throwing the car keys in the trash. Any of that sound familiar?
We can not impose play on kids, but we can encourage it. Kids often will look to us for recognition. This could be a smile and a few words. It might be a question that invites them to tell or show us more. We may even play with them for awhile. For instance, we may kick a ball back and forth in the yard, sip an imaginary cup of tea, or build with blocks.
Toys are part of play, but children will play without them. Sometimes, their play becomes more creative when they have to make do with what they have or imagine what they want.
In the next series of posts, I’d like to explore ways that kids play. While we can’t look inside, we can see what’s happening on the outside and get ideas about their play. Can you and your child come out to play? Consider this another valentine from play.