Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 days of hands on play

There is a very nice reflection and play opportunity organized by Hands on as we grow, which I hope to follow over the next month, hopefully geared towards encouraging more hands on play with the children.

The idea of the first task was to reflect on how I could get more hands on with the kids to play.

I had to ask myself, how hands on am I with the children as they play?

Here are the positives.

1. I set up activities for them to explore. Almost everyday, we have an exploration activity, some complicated, involving lot of setup time, like the baking soda flour activity, some simple and easy, like what I did yesterday by giving the kids a bunch of ice cubes, and several containers/ sieves, cloths to play filtering and drink water from. The activity is usually artisitc/ scientific, often a mixture of both.

2. While they are doing these activities, I try to explain stuff to them - why does ice melt faster when you pound it with a garlic pounder? Why does the flour paint become spongy like cake when you microwave it?

That said, here are the negatives

1. After setting up an activity for them, and sometimes spending a few minutes on it with the kids, I often step back and let the children explore. Sometimes I ask myself if that is a good idea or is it better for me to be constantly there, actually taking part in the activity and exploration? For instance, during yesterday's ice exploration session, I was hanging around the kitchen, making sure that the pita bread for today's lunch were shaped, risen and in order. So, while I was keeping an eye on the activity, I wasnt actively taking part in it. So I ask myself, would the exploration have been more engaging if I had joined in more activelyt? If I had, for example, shown the kids how to do extended play, like ice cube painting?

2. I have, as I am too often aware, limited time with the kids in the evening. Between 3 to 3.5 hours between the time I get home and the time the kids go to bed. Added to this is the lethargy and tiredness that i bring back from work which simply, at times, makes me want to curl up and go to sleep. There are also the structured activities to follow up on: For Anjali, she has to do reading, piano, and shloka practice before bed. While these activities, put together, dont take much time, I estimate a total of half an hour of work, getting her to sit at these (while its getting easier), is sometimes a challenge. For me, it is especially hard to do it if the kids are in the middle of some elaborate pretend play, like yesterday when they were doing a very elaborate Simba Nala dramatization on top of pride rock. I feel guilty about breaking the pretend play, and I feel guilty about not breaking the pretend play, for perhaps, when the pretend play finishes, the girls may be too tired/ cranky/ hungry to do the structured activities. Is there a way to improve this situation?

Hands on as we grow asks us to jot down the kids' interests, so possibly we can align playtime to these interests, so here goes

Anjali's interests
Very diverse, Jack of all trades sort. Starting to show a improving interest in reading. Dancing, pretend play, anything physical - climbing, jumping etc

Sophia's interests
Pretend play. Dancing, music, especially if it comes back to the pretend play. Talking. A lot.

1 comment:

  1. You are good K, I have always admired you and the interest you take in kids. I am guilty of letting the girls play by themselves too and I think it is very imp that we step back and just observe. When I am busy in the kitchen, I definitely try to keep them engaged with some activity or games. I know that Dee can get into trouble by climbing up sofas etc while I am not looking but I just simply hate to see her strapped up in her high chair or keep A engaged with the TV (though there have been times I have done that to get things done faster!)but as they grow up and A is getting independant, I let her choose what she wants to do. I tell myself, that I should give them more hands on activities to explore...Sometimes it just doesnt happen...You are doing good...& keep it up my dear! Swati


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