Creative play is a type of play in which the child uses their body and a wide variety of materials to express themselves and their imagination. As parents we often have the tendency to dominate our children’s play by telling them what to do. It can be difficult to step back and let the child take the lead. It often helps to observe your child playing first and join in (if they are receptive!) by copying what they are doing or by commenting on what they are making. Try to put aside five minutes a day to play with your child. They will relish getting your full attention and it will help to strengthen your relationship.
So how do we encourage our children to play creatively? We give them time and space without distractions. We give them play materials. They don’t have to be expensive. Balls, boxes, blocks, blankets, balloons, bubbles, sand trays, buckets of water, paint, chalk, puppets, soft toys, cars, figures and toy animals are good play materials that encourage creative play. This does not mean that anything goes and the house gets trashed. Have a few ground rules for playtime such as: We draw only on paper (not the walls!), we look after the toys and everyone must help tidy up when we are finished.
Here are some ways to encourage creative play with your child;
- Make sure the child has a suitable space to play. Turn off distractions like TVs, IPads and phones. If the child is being boisterous, move outside to the garden or the park.
- When the child looks for you to join in, help them to develop their ideas. For example, if the child is throwing stones into a water tray you could introduce new objects to test to see if they sink or float (such as a wine cork, a leaf, piece of wood, spoon etc).
- Encourage the child to explore different types of creative play; dancing, singing, painting, drawing, making, storytelling or acting. If the child tells you a story, pretend to be one of the characters in role play. Make a song for one of the characters to sing. What kind of dance would they do? These suggestions help to develop the play experience for the child and gets them thinking of new possibilities.