I do this because this is a testimonial to how play has changed our lives. Here is the backstory to why I write what I do.
Ladybug Girl was a sensitive little baby. She would fuss when the room was noisy. As a toddler, she would cry when people applauded and exclaimed over her. The Bible scared her and nursery books could make her tear up. Till today at six, she claps her hands over ears as a defense instinct.
|1 year old|
|4 years old|
When she turned two, I started to wonder how to play with her. (This is pretty common the more I speak to moms because of my job). I seriously didn't know how to play with a baby -- I had been an adult for fourteen years! All I remember is dolls and TV and colouring books.
My early choices were well-meaning, but with hindsight... pretty stupid.
|I carefully chose and edited sesame street clips to watch together. I'm not against screen time, don't get me wrong - she learned the alphabet this way. It's just that we could have done so much more of other kinds of play.|
Weekends were worse - I was bored and restless. So we'd go out : that was our play. And when the novelty wore off, I finally googled "how to play" for ideas that I could do on weekends.
|After our first volcano, I never looked back.|
I got hooked on the wonder in her face. Playing stopped being a chore when I was learning through her eyes. I had forgotten the excitement of experiencing the world as a child, but the memories come rushing back once you start following a child's lead. So I did. It was life-changing.
|I began to be more present, mind and spirit, in our play - rather than just passing the time.|
Messy play was the most fun - absolutely guaranteed to get the look of wonder on her face.
|Mixed flour and baby oil for a sweet-smelling play dough. The mess is part of the play.|
|Baking with food colouring eventually led to colour mixing with the extra batter|
|And inevitably leads to some hands-on delight|
|This was just a few months ago after the "volcano" errupted|
|Learning the colour wheel with coloured water: eventually irresistible to touch|
Reading about Montessori and following some awesome blogs led me to discover what that magic was called : sensorial play. At the first stage of brain development (from 0-6), sensorial learning is the most important to help them understand how the world works.
But the best reason to play in this way I discovered entirely by accident. My little shy girl blossomed. She became more confident in herself. Where before she would fear new experiences and failure and shrink away, after a year of doing sensory play she wouldn't hesitate.
|This lets her experience her body and the sensations of movement|
|Enjoying the view from the top of the "Crazy Bus" ride. Neither me or my husband enjoy rides like this, but she now does. At Universal Studios she made the height limit to ride this. I was more scared than she was.|
Those who knew her before marvelled at this huge change. Where before she would be nervous around people, she began to volunteer at kiddie shows and games and enjoy attention from my officemates.
|Finally smiling around mama's officemates|
Play has changed me too. Before discovering the world of playful parenting, multiple intelligences and Montessori, I wanted to toughen her up. Be the classic "happy baby" that everyone expects babies to be. I honestly thought she would grow out of being sensitive.
Thank the Good Lord he intervened with some mama's grace to listen to my daughter. Through play time I got to observe her, learn about her and, in time, know her well. I fell deeper in love with her gentle spirit and soft heart. She will always be a sensitive soul. I'm thankful that as much as play time allows me to be her guide, it lets her be mine.
|Seeing the world through her eyes makes me a better mama|
I've used play principles for all sorts of parenting situations: our first ER trip trauma, helping her learn math, and dealing with anxiety... I guarantee that whatever your situation is, play will help.
Make time for play and the rewards are worth it.