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Supporting child-led play

Need ideas of how to better support your little one’s child-led play?

Be Agile

An important part of being a non-leading actor in your child’s is the ability to be agile & pivot. Sometimes we play along with our child only to be shut down. “Look, the block’s a car”, “No it’s not it’s a plane”. Instead of taking this as rejection, roll with it.

A great strategy to use is the “Yes, and…” approach used in improv comedy. In it, you accept what the other has said (yes) & expand on it (and). “Woaaaah it’s up high in the air, what birds do you think it can see up here?”

Stay Close

Get outside and let your child lead the way. Walk around & talk about what you can see, smell & hear. Let them explore, even ‘get lost’ (with you nearby if they need you). It can be scary embracing your child’s self-led exploration but most kids will only go as far as their feelings of safety will stretch from you, their secure base (their ʻinvisible safety lineʼ). If you move with them, they will keep going, but if you stay still they will find the edge of their safety line.

This Octopus is

Sometimes parents struggle to enter their child’s world of play. An example of this is in the Bluey episode “Octopus”. Chloe’s (Bluey’s friend) Dad can’t shut off his logical brain & tries to correct Chloe’s game, wanting it to be more accurate (Octopus are poisonous not electric). This gets in the way of their play & Chloe wishes her Dad was more fun “like Bluey’s Dad”.

They come to realise they can both play in their own way. They conclude that maybe most Octopus aren’t electric but THIS Octopus is. It’s a great example of using the “Yes, and..” approach to wholly accept the premise of your child’s imagination & embrace their play.

Be Mindful

Above all, being a participant in child-led play is about being mindful. It’s about noticing your child & being present with them. Responding to their cues & accepting them & what they bring to the play, all while letting go of your pre-conceived notions about the world. Truly immersing ourselves in play is mindfulness in action.

For more tips head over and check out @inspire.teach.learn for some great ideas!

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