I truly delight in watching my children play. It’s when I see how wonderfully they are made. Their ability to create and be free and to imagine brings me joy. There are many activities they enjoy doing and they have enjoyed being taught or led in music, gymnastics, dancing, football, swimming and I’m sure many other things. But it’s when they are free to make up their own story that the real benefits of ‘play’ emerge. Their creativity is unleashed, they grow in confidence, they learn to use their voice and body, they learn how to have relationships and resolve conflict, they learn to lead and follow and persuade and negotiate. They practice expressing their emotions and develop empathy for others.
Having been home educating for just a couple of months, I can look back and see changes in them already. One that most obviously stands out is the difference at the beginning of the day. Initially, they all seemed to be demanding my one to one attention, to play a game with them or sit and colour with them. I found I was pulled in several directions and it was difficult to meet everyone’s needs. Now, they seem to have got the hang of staying at home. They’re used to the usual routine of not leaving the house, they realise they’re not going anywhere and neither am I…so there’s no rush for my time. On most days, the mornings, after Matt has left for work, are relaxed and they have all developed more ability to manage their own time, to find things to do…some having found this more difficult than others previously. They might sometimes need a prompt or an idea, but often my idea will be rejected and they just need a few minutes to think of something. I’m reluctant to interrupt their flow of play when it’s going well.
There are still many sibling disagreements, but they are generally playing really well. Especially the older two, being only 15 months apart in age. They really are the very best of friends and it’s lovely watching their relationship flourish. I hope as the younger two grow up that more special relationships will emerge too. I love to watch the older ones help and delight in the younger ones. But it’s also hard to see them be left out or rejected and I’m quick to step in and offer to be a playmate when required.
I’ve really made more effort to play with them these last couple of weeks. I know in my heart of hearts that it offers such a gift of love to them to kneel down (in the crumbs) and join in their game. It’s a gift of my time and energy…but the more I do it, the easier it becomes, and they welcome my ideas…but more often love to lead. And how nice for them to call the shots and be in charge for a change. I’m getting used to the words, ‘Mum, pretend….’