I recently went to my first parenting seminar. Modern Momma held an intimate gathering of mothers whose children ranged from just over a year and to teenagers. The seminar was “The Value of Play” and focused on children and unstructured play. The speaker was Margery Healey of the Compassionate Parent Coach
What did I learn? Free play creates the ability to visualize and creative expression which will aid in gaining confidence and self actualization. Sounds heavy but I remember this is about play and hopefully I can explain the key notes i took from listening to Margery.
Let Little A play. Sounds like an easy concept. Thru play Little A can develop life skills – she will learn to think within her own thoughts, to ponder pros and cons, and to figure out the next step, stage or engagement in the process of play. I don’t have to be involved – this is hard for both of us… She is very “mom” oriented and I know I cater to that as well. I learned I can be close by reading a book, sipping a latte watching, or in another room completely prepping dinner.
Another big part of free play is Image Making. I don’t have to lead the story, if I lead every play time how will she learn to use her brain to create her own visualizations. Does my boss tell me how to do every step of my job. No , the work place is made for independent thinkers, manage your own time, make your own decision. I must give Little A the freedom to develop image making. This will be harder for me to learn. I’m a talker and I want to help with her imagination. But l’m not reading a Choose Your Own Adventure Book here -This is her life, her development. Visualization/Image making is a learned skill that can be gained from listening to audio books and having Little A describe what she heard. No audio books, it was suggested I can even read books but not show her the pictures or she can play on her own.
A big “ah ha” moment for me at the parenting seminar was learning that Boredom is not a bad thing. Margery had a great concept of “the boredom chair” -The idea is that when your child says “I”m Bored” to let your child sit in a “boredom chair” until they – on their own – think of something to do. A challenge for them to overcome on their own. When Little A is old enough to say “I’m bored” I’m implementing the boredom chair. It isn’t up to me to solve the issue of Boredom. It is up to her. No leading her by suggesting to play blocks, or go color. Again it is up to her. I may have to tape my mouth shut to stop myself.
Margery said “The first thing they learn is that they are unsure as to what they would like to do and this is a challenge. When they solve their own challenge they see themselves as an individual who can work through a problem. Not only do they gain confidence in themselves by doing this, they also learn their likes and dislikes, they tap into pure unrestricted intrinsic motivation and they choose things that have meaning to them”. How inspiring is it to be a part of that sort of development, to watch your child gain all that richness on their own.
Free play allows for creative expression. A child is able to see themselves as capable of creating their own ideas and then having the ability to elaborate on them. I look forward to watching Little A grow older and develop her ability to share her ideas, to learn the give and take of playing with her friends.
It is amazing how a simple thing like independent play teaches a child to be expressive with their individual thoughts and ideas, to know what they like and what they do not like, to create confidence in themselves and have confident in their ability to make choices and to stand by their choices. That is self actualization. My daughters development is now even more exciting to watch… if I could just keep my mouth shut.
p.s. Modern momma has more Parenting seminars that I would highly recommend attending. Check their upcoming events for more