When it comes to kids and real play advise, one person instantly springs to mind; Dr. Suzy Green, an expert clinical psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute. Dr. Green’s organisation has dedicated years of research on positive psychology within schools, the workplace and life in general.
Dr. Green has now joined our mission to allow kids to get dirty and therefore, develop by bringing back unstructured free play. Here are her top 5 Real Play tips:
Commit to creating opportunities for more real play time. That might mean dropping one or two structured activities from your child’s weekly timetable. Try focusing on the benefits of what you and your child will gain from doing less, rather than more. Remember that unstructured real play allows children to be imaginative, creative and resourceful.
2. Be creative:
Talk to other parents about what activities they loved doing as kids or what their kids do for real play. Why not brainstorm a list of real play activities with your kids and put it up on the fridge. Try to ensure that there are opportunities for playing outdoors if possible, as research suggests that nature has a powerful impact on our wellbeing.
3. Be imaginative:
Use real play moments such as building a cubby house with your kids to tap into their imagination. Put together a “treasure chest” of outfits and props that they might need for imaginary play. And whilst the outdoors is perfect for real play, don’t let living in an apartment stop you from using your imagination. There’s no reason why you can’t make mud pies indoors!
4. Be childlike:
Spend some time positively reminiscing on what it was like to be a child yourself. What were the activities that you loved to do, and which didn’t involve a parent? By sharing your favourite memories with your kids, they might also want to discover how much fun these activities can be!
5. Be authentic, not perfect:
Remember it’s not all about being a ‘perfect’ parent. It’s not about wasting hours trying to locate the ‘perfect’ tree for your child to climb; it’s about celebrating the everyday messy moments as much as the pristine ones. No one will judge you; they’ll be glad that they are not the only ones making mistakes! Real play is about living spontaneously; using what is in our natural environment and igniting our kid’s imaginations to discover and explore. Let your kids take the lead on real play, even if that means they’ll get a little messy or dirty. Remember, dirt goes, but growth stays. Dirt is good!