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Lockdown with your little ones – Structured & Child-led play

Wow! What an overwhelming few weeks we’ve all had. So much to process. A lot of change in the blink of an eye to everyone’s routine, both little and not so little.  A lot to juggle. We are all on a rollercoaster of emotions right now, trying – striving to keep some sort of ‘normal’ in a very abnormal , never before seen global crisis.

First of all I want to say – You’ve Got This!  It may not feel like you do sometimes. If you are staying on top of the basics like eating, washing and being there for your kiddos, then you got this. Nothing more is expected from you at this time, so dont be hard on yourself. If things get intense, stressful or overwhelming for your little one I find that water play is very soothing, so why not try some of the following bath time ANYTIME ideas:

Instead of the usual ‘bath toys’  why not add something like:

  •  lego to create a fun and educational  lego bath pop in the lego, they’ll float! Learn colours by fishing out same colours and stack them or to enhance numeracy skills create a number tower , starting with 1, then 1,2, then 1,2,3 and so on and so forth where the children can visually see the towers getting higher with each additional lego piece they add.
  • water based paints with brushes and your little ones can paint on the side of the bath without creating a huge mess as it is all contained in the bath, just add extra water to the paint pop it in a little tray or cup and let them get creative and colourful. No paint brushes? NO PROBLEM, finger painting is so much fun, as well as painting with spaghetti (just boil the spaghetti first to soften it and a bunch can be used as your little Picassos paint brush!)
bath paint
  • kitchen utensils are fantastic, they can cook up a storm in the bath using pots, whisks, ladles etc , great for gross motor coordination
  • car wash pop in their toy cars and trucks, a few sponges and encourage them to clean all their cars, creative imaginary play
  • floating ball pool  pop in those ball pit balls and watch as your little one splashes even more with excitement – add a bucket/pot/tub and get them to fill up the bucket with balls and practice their counting and motor skills,
  • empty plastic bottles can create endless fun in the bath, get your little ones to fill up and empty the botttles, submerging them under water, hearing the glug glug as it fill, pouring the water over their heads, through their fingers or on you! Add extra sensory fun by piercing little holes down the body of the bottle and as your child fills it up little squirts of water come out, cognitive development with cause and effect 
  • Bubbles add extra soap to create an extra foamy bubble bath scoop them up in your hands and blow them at each other, or use our magic catchable bubbles  that your little one can catch and stack, improving hand/eye coordination.
Singing songs together whilst your little one is in water can be very soothing!

Secondly, over time as this lockdown continues, and I use this term loosely right now, but a routine will help you all get through your days a little bit easier. If you are still working, albeit from home, schedule times that suit you most to focus on work (nap times, later in the evenings, or during a 30 minute CBBees show) lets face if you gotta do what you’ve gotta do. If you are lucky to have a 2nd adult at home with you then create a timetable where you both get time with kids and time to get your work complete.

Within your daily routine for the little ones, try and have one daily scheduled ‘structured’ play time, something that you as their carer leads and they follow. It is something your little one will love to have daily, now they aren’t in creche, day care or in their Mini Musos music class with their other little friends. It could be story time snuggling with a book, an online virtual class you take together, outdoors times be it in the garden playing ball or a nature walk within your 2km radius.  As well as that structured time together however it is very important to also allow time for child-led play. Turning off your phone, creating a space that’s intriguing for your little one, let them lead and you follow suit. Bringing your innate child to the forefront, slowing down and allowing your little one to explore, be creative and imaginative without their being a right or wrong outcome.

Benefits of Child-led learning are:

  • Your Child is in charge:  children are highly curious and have an infinite amount of unique ideas, following their lead during child-led play will allow for some magical moments to occur, moments you could not create had you been leading the child.
  • Unpressured learning: the child will engage in the activity when they are ready, naturally, without force or preconceived outcomes.
  • Foster a Love of Learning: providing a safe space where your child is heard and allowed to explore, ask questions and make mistakes gives them a joyful approach to learning.
  • Learning happens quickly: when your little one is ready, engaging in a certain activity and figuring it out, they are determined and ready to learn so learning will happen quickly.

Child-led play is about waiting to see what unfolds – not putting your child into any position they can not get into (or out of) by themselves – you do not need to give your child a ‘helping hand’ especially if they can not do it themselves.

Further reading and examples of child-led play for babies, toddlers and young children can be found here.

Happy reading, exploring and playing with your little ones. Take it all one moment at a time.

I miss every one of you, and cannot wait till our classes resume. Until they do however I plan bring some music and magic to your own homes over the coming weeks so watch this space!

I wish you all and your extended families health and safety at this time.

Karen x