25 April 2012
Posted in Little Learners
Getting your child to actually go outside to play and interact with other children is a big deal. A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children ages 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using various media. With all of these distractions, how can parents pry their children away from the screen and ensure they will develop necessary social skills? For some tips and methods to help expose your child to cooperative play we sat down with early childhood specialist Melanie Turner:With so many children nowadays busy with texting, gaming, and watching TV, what are some techniques parents can use to get their children to unplug and go outside?
Parents need to remember that they are the parent. I would recommend restricting the amount of time they are able to watch TV, play on the computer, on the phone, video games and any other electronics. When they are participating in the above activities they should be closely supervised by a parent. I also would highly recommend having family meal times. When dining, make sure all electronics are off and engage them in conversation. Encourage your child to enjoy active play by sending them outside for certain amounts of time. If your child has certain interests encourage those interests. For example, if they like to ride bikes make sure they have access to a good bicycle and helmet. If your child likes to play soccer make sure there is a soccer ball around. If possible have items like hula hoops, side walk chalk or jump ropes around the house to provide a variety of things they can choose from. It is ideal if you can go out and participate as well. When a child sees that you are enjoying an activity they are 10 times more likely to enjoy it and participate. Do some messy activities outside. Encourage your children to use their imagination and don’t be afraid to use yours!Especially with younger children, what are some ways parents can introduce their child to play?
There are so many ways! Young children are just beginning to explore their world. Children explore the world through their senses. Almost everything a child does when they are young is play and helps them to grow and gain knowledge of the world around them. You can start at very young age by playing peek-a-boo. Then as they grow provide things that appeal to their senses. Read books to them and make silly voices for all the characters in the story. Let them know it’s ok to get messy by letting them play with play dough, bubbles, and shaving cream. Give them a cabinet in the kitchen that has pots and pans, plastic spoons and Tupperware that are just for them to play music or to just play. You are a key ingredient to your child’s play. Provide an environment where it is safe for them to play.If a child is hesitant about playing with other children, what are some methods parents can use to remedy the situation?
There are a number of ways that parents can help their child deal with interactions with other children of which I will mention a few. One is make sure that you are providing opportunities for your child to interact with other children. Either through play groups, other neighborhood kids, church groups, one day or more of preschool a week, taking your child to places like the Orlando Science Center and/or enrolling them in classes like our Early Childhood Series. Also, make sure you are taking the time to play with them. Follow your child’s lead when playing. Try not to correct or dominate the play but contribute to and advance the ideas, offer suggestions. Most importantly, remember to have fun!
Lastly, take a problem solving approach. If your child is having difficulty with someone in their peer group, a sibling or a friend, help them walk through the problem. You don’t always have to have the answers. Help your child consider various solutions and perspectives. Ask leading questions and help your child consider the problem themselves. This way as your child continues to face new and different problems with people now, they will know how to better cope and come up with solutions as they get older.