I've been there, trust me!
Sat playing with my child and they are telling me what to say, where to sit and what to do and then when I do, I'm not doing it right?!! What is that??
Or those days when you've been sat playing with your child for what feels like 5 hours but the clock says it's only been 5 minutes!!!
And what about when your child only ever wants to play the same thing, all day, every day for what feels like forever!
Yep I've been there, and I'm an Early Years Expert who totally geeks out about play!!
We know play is good for our children, heavens I've been shouting about it for long enough and we know just how much our children cherish us sitting with them to play but let's be honest, playing with our young children can be boring, monotonous and most of the the time you're there in person but your head is going through the pile of jobs that need doing!
So, I'm here to help and firstly, let me reassure you, you're not the only one feeling this way. I have many DM's starting with "I'm ashamed to admit I find playing with my child super boring!" And let me hold your hand and tell you, that's ok and it's totally normal! Phew! Now that's out of the way, let me help you add a little spark to playtimes, not only for the kids but for your sake and sanity too!!
Now many children want there parent or carer to be sat with them to play at all times and this can be tricky. This is closely linked to their need to feel safe and reassured so your presence is required at all times. There are some key things you can do to encourage your child to play independently, so let me link you to a blog post that I think will be really helpful.
However, play is often boring for us adults because our children like to do the same activity over and over again.
Like I said, I have been there. With a vehicle fanatic child, this is all we did and let me tell you there are only so many times and so many ways you can pretend to be a car park attendant and zoom little cars around a rug!!!
Did you know, it's actually really good for young children to have a keen interest? Something that really sparks them and makes their eyes light up and ears prick up? Yep, let that reassure you that it's good for them. It makes them curious, motivated and keen to learn more, You can feed their thirst for more with books, non-fiction and a whole host of learning just by linking it to something they are interested in, Give a child a blank piece of paper and they will be reluctant to write, but tell them we need to write down the number plates of the cars we see or make parking tickets and you're onto a winner! It can be a huge motivator! Now not all children have a keen interest, but many do!
However the down side of this is that they only want to read, play and do the same things which can be pretty dull for us grown ups! But there are some nifty tricks you can do to mix things up slightly.
Before we start, I just want to reassure you that repetitive play is a good thing. Many adults worry the child isn't learning anything by engaging in the same activity but actually they are! They are mastering skills, embedding those skills and growing in confidence when completing that task. Just like reading the same story at bedtime each night, kids feel most comfortable when they know what's coming next. They feel prepared and equipped to handle the situation and the same happens in their play, especially when it's something they've done before.
OK, so using Mason's interest of vehicles, his chosen activity would be to lie down on the rug and zoom his cars up and down. That's it and as a parent, it was hard for me to get excited by this! But using Mason's interest as a starting point, it actually opens up a world of play opportunities because with a little bit of creative thinking, we can start to introduce other types of play using his interest.
The best way to do this is to click the button below and download our Play Planner. Now using this handy document, try to add some ideas to each section of the planner linked to your child's theme! This will help you to think outside the box and discover new ways of incorporating your child's interest in different types of play and open up their world of imagination and creativity. Take risks, have a go, there's nothing to lose! If they try it but don't like it, don't take it to heart, your child just isn't ready to leave their comfort zone just yet!
Now not every type of play is going to be linked to your theme so don't worry if you cannot make it work. Also at this point, bare in mind that not all children like every type of play. Just like us adults don't like every type of hobby, we all have our likes and dislikes so never force an activity on a child, it'll only make them less likely to want to engage!
Be confident, try something new and enjoy play times again!
Click this image below to download your Play Planner and get thinking! If you get stuck thinking of new ideas, our community group on Facebook is a great place to ask for help and support!