By Jessica Forst – CAPN Play Facilitator and Parent
As I watch my children play in between working from home, cooking meals, completing household chores, and taking or making phone calls from or to family or friends, I realize how grateful I am to have mentors that are parents or guardians of children who are grown now. These mentors paved the way for the parent I am becoming to my young children. They offered insight, support, and suggestions for many years and taught me to trust my instinct. The recommendations came from their own experiences and love for the development of the child.
I have an eclectic approach to parenting and teaching my now eight and nine-year-old children. I have read and learned about Reggio, Waldorf, and Montessori approaches to learning. I have become a free play facilitator and shared my experiences with families regarding children’s play for years. I have allowed my children to make their own assessment of danger and risk while being informed and open to how those may differ from family to family.
I had always dreamed of being able to stay home with my children and teach them, but again, like many other families in the U.S., I had to work to sustain a comfortable way of living. I was, however, very fortunate to have parents and in-laws that were retired from their many years of working and had offered to care for my children. Yes, I do realize what a sacrifice that was and I can never repay them for the peace of mind, love, and care they gave my children. I am also aware of my privilege of being able to work while loved ones cared for my children. It truly has helped shape the people they are becoming. I had the luxury of knowing that they would be cared for, allowed to play outside, and make messes.
I mention this background information to share that it truly does take a village to raise children and right now, we have been torn from our village for everyone’s safety. I have learned through the years that my instinct and ability to teach my children valuable lessons came from all of these individuals, my love of nature, creating, and being playful.
I understand that this is not a norm or reality for most families and I wish to provide an idea of how you can create your own space for freedom to play during this time of being homebound. Many families are living in spaces that do not have access to the outdoors due to the unforeseen fears of becoming sick from simply taking your child to a playground or using the handrails and doors in your apartment complex and infecting loved ones or themselves with the virus Covid-19. These are real concerns and I don’t want to suggest ideas that are not accessible to all.
So what do we do then? How can we let our children play and remain safe? What kind of materials do you have in your home that can allow for hours of play?
I have come up with a list based on being in living spaces with families of varying incomes because of making visits to homes as part of my work as an early childhood educator.
The following list includes items that can allow for open ended play at home:
Cereal boxes Pillows chairs
Yogurt cups scarves couches
Boxes adult dresses/hats/ties/shoes buckets
Bed sheets stuffed animals blocks
Dolls cars Legos
bags/suitcases paper advertisements
pots/pans/wooden spoons aluminum foil paint brushes
Now what can you do and where can your child go using their imagination? Stay tuned for more photos, fun, inspiration, and ideas! Be well.