The benefits of active play for children are well known: muscle development, increased motor skills and social interaction are a few in the long list. As parents, we all want to do our best for our children, but with modern day distractions such as television and computers, it can be difficult. Children don’t come with a maintenance manual but taking them out to seek active play opportunities helps. Here are a few ideas about how you can encourage your child into active play.
- Be a great role model
Children are like sponges and, without us always realising it, they soak up our behaviours and standards very quickly. If we demonstrate a love of active playing then they will want to be a part of it. Try to be the kind of parent who takes an interest in the world around you. If you are walking to the shops, allow time and be prepared to explore new streets or look in shop windows. If you are in an active or soft play area, join in as much as you can and try to get involved with what they are doing. Allow your children to see you enjoying new experiences and encourage them to do the same.
- Don’t answer all of the questions
Most stay-at-home parents will have to deal with 300 questions from their children a day. Even to the most patient of us, this can become annoying. Encourage active thinking by turning questions around. For example, if your children ask, “What does that shop sell?” go into the shop, have a look around together and then ask the same question back at them. Active thinking can be an important part of active play and your children will be encouraged to investigate the play options around them more if they are given opportunities to answer their own questions.
- Encourage communication
Sometimes children become so absorbed in their play that they are facilitating their own learning. It is important though to recognise when a child might need additional stimulation and provide that by asking open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, “what colour is that light now?” try giving them a reason to explore ideas by asking, “why do you think that light is changing colour?” Active play is more likely to occur if you communicate with your children while they are engaged in it. If you are involved you will also be able to talk to your children after the event and relive some important play experiences.
Encouraging active play isn’t as difficult as you might think. Many of us do it very naturally. Taking your children to new and exciting places can be tricky when the weather is poor, so why not consider visiting an interactive soft play space such as Little Giggles Soft Play in Bristol that offers physical activity alongside opportunities for inquisitiveness and discovery?