Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Micro-Managing No More

[Open-Ended Play Series, Part 3]
{This is not an ordinary basket, but a space suit helmet, aiding Xander in his pursuit of outer space travel.}

As I mentioned earlier, protecting free-time is an important aspect in encouraging open-ended play. Another way we can facilitate and protect this kind of play is by being careful not to micro-manage.

Most people do not like being micro-managed. Few things are more frustrating to me than for someone to be looking over my shoulder telling me EXACTLY what to do and how to do it. And yet, I find that the more I’m micro-managed, the more I come to depend on it. Certainly an icky dilemma.

The same thing happens with our kids when we fail to recognize when they are engaged in play and interrupt them or when we try to dictate how our kids go about playing, problem solving, etc… As a somewhat “type A” type, I know I’m especially prone to this.

So I remind myself to resist the urge to micro-manage their play. I am constantly stepping back and trying to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes asking a few leading questions can be the spark to get a kid going on their own imaginative journey. Kids come up with the craziest ideas and we need to be careful to respect and encourage this even if it doesn’t always jive with reality or how we would do things.

But playing, REALLY playing, in some ways is a learned skill. Depending on where your children are at, they may need some prodding in the right direction when it comes to turning the TV off and simply playing. It means getting down on their level and engaging them with some kind of imaginative play and seeing where they want to go with it! Sometimes I will challenge myself to look around and try to find some unique and crazy way to play with what is at hand. This can make for some seriously fun family experiences and before I know it, my kids are playing the same fun game! By setting the example, we can model creativity and problem solving! We just need to be ready to step back and not run the “show” constantly!

So, how do we find a balance? Really it’s about relaxing and taking cues from our kids. Get involved and help get the creative juices flowing if need be, but otherwise sit back and enjoy watching their budding creativity! Watching my kids, lost in play, is one of my favorite perks of parenting!

Keegan, setting up Noah's Ark with the blocks.  Block play is an area where I stepped in and gave some ideas on 'how' to play with them.  It didn't take long for them to 'take-off' with the blocks and use them for all kinds of things...

1 comment:

  1. What blessed little boys you are raising Heather. :) I like your idea of getting creative with what is on hand and being *fun* as a parent...that is definitely something I need to do more often.

    Many blessings to you!