Children are able to create their own work, their own play, when given the kind of environment they can thrive in. Just like us adults, the spaces we spend our time can impact us and make us feel positive and ready to do our work, or the can impact us negatively making us feel overwhelmed, sluggish or unmotivated. It can feel challenging to create spaces and opportunities which inspire and motivate children. I know I’m often feeling overwhelmed by my home: seemingly small jobs, like washing clothes and tidying up, quickly and easily pile up, leaving us feeling uninspired and energised. It’s the same for children. I’m sharing my favourite starting points for giving children a space to learn and thrive:
Quality Over Quantity
By choosing quality over quantity we limit the amount on offer to children. Making sure that what is on offer is going to provide them with open ended play possibilities. One way of limiting what is on offer is to rotate toys, only bringing some toys out for the week, month or season. Or switching toys over when you feel your child is in need of a change. This allows children to deepen their play and learning, letting them explore the possibilities of a toy (such as building blocks) without the distraction of too many other toys to play with.
Involvement in everyday activities around the home such as cooking, tidying and washing. Many children love to be involved in the work of adults, they watch intently as we use a tool or process they have not seen before. To become involved is to be a part of the world, to be a member of the community, to be valued, to contribute. Involvement in adult work can be a great confidence boost.
Of course alongside involvement their is independent play. Children have their projects and interests which when given the tools, space and freedom they will explore and learn about. Open ended supplies, toys and tools which can be used for a variety of things are great to have on hand. Things like sketchbooks, study equipment such as magnifying glasses, craft materials and building materials. This kind of open ended play allows children to delve deep into their work, rather than remaining at a surface level.
Nature as a starting point. If you are unsure where to start, nature is always a good first step. Introducing nature into your family learning culture will provide rich insight and endless fascination. You can do this by studying topics, taking nature walks, visiting natural spaces, using natural materials in learning and crafts, reading books about nature – both fiction and nonfiction. As you develop your love of the natural world, nature will find all kinds of ways for becoming part of your everyday life.
Adults model giving their work the time and space it deserves. We can not expect children to delve deep into their learning if we are not committed to our own. Children learn by watching us, if we show that we are able to focus on one thing at a time, then children will also learn this skill. In a time when anxiety is on the rise, this skill is gaining even greater importance.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What is your little one delving deeply into at the moment? What work is happening in your home