parenting

  • Invitations to Play: A Misunderstood Concept

    Invitations to Play: A Misunderstood Concept

    An explanation of the phrase “invitation to play”

    Building off the concept of schemas is the idea of creating invitations to play. Simply put, an invitation to play is when an adult arranges toys in a way that is meant to spark a child’s interest.

    This is an amazing way to introduce new toys or get your child to expand their play by providing them with opportunities to make connections between toys they may not have seen for themselves.

    The common misunderstanding

    But there seems to be a fairly common misunderstanding about the purpose of invitations to play. This concept is directly derived from the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education.

    Reggio Emilia really focuses on following the child’s interest and using the environment as a third teacher. The materials provided in the child’s environment are meant to encourage exploration and spark interest without needing direction from adults.

    This concept has made its way from Reggio-inspired classrooms to the everyday parent who is looking to spark their child’s imagination. There are blogs, Instagrams, and Pinterest boards solely dedicated to giving moms ideas for invitations to play. And that’s great. However, I think it’s important to note a few things.

    I see moms constantly looking to get ideas for invitations to play. They seem stressed because they “can’t think of anything” or they are focused on providing their kids the perfect setup.

    I think that the concept behind creating invitations to play has gotten a little lost.

    How to Move Forward

    First, you don’t NEED to be doing this on a daily basis. In fact, you don’t need to be doing it at all for that matter. You child is perfectly capable of creating their own scenes for play if left alone with their imagination.

    That said, I understand wanting to.

    Maybe it brings you joy or you appreciate the way it allows your kids to play with things that might not always be top of mind for them. That’s amazing. You’re crushing it…

    I would encourage you to keep in mind that creating invitations to play is best done when you’re observing the schema (or schemas) that your child is really focused on in the moment and using that knowledge to create simple setups that build on their chosen focus. The idea is to follow the child.

    AND…Don’t stress if this is not your thing (it’s not really mine!).

    You can get TONS of ideas off Instagram and Pinterest, just PLEASE don’t beat yourself up over not being able to create picture-perfect invitations to play every day. I promise your little one will survive.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • Understanding Schema Play

    Understanding Schema Play

    Schemas are patterns of repeated behavior that allow children to develop an understanding of the world around them through play and exploration. Schemas are mental models or processes that we create by trial and error through experiences.

    Kids are the perfect example of how we build schemas. They are constantly testing out concepts. You can easily notice these patterns of behavior in older infants and toddlers. Things like banging, pulling, pushing, and spinning are all examples of schema play.

    Following the Child

    The importance of early childhood education is well-established and reaches well beyond the preschool years. In fact, “early childhood” is considered birth to eight years old–so approximately 2nd or 3rd grade.

    This time period is crucial for children. I’d even go so far as to say more crucial than post-secondary education. Why? Because how and what they learn during this time period will provide them with a foundation for the rest of their lives.

    Education during these early years will help shape social, emotional, and physical health, as well as develop intrinsic motivation for lifelong learning–not just learning to get a grade.

    With that in mind, the basis of any early childhood education philosophy should be to follow the child. So, what does this look like?

    For more information about early childhood philosophies check out this article on Montessori.

    Child Development and Schemas

    It starts with newborns. From the time they are infants, we should be letting our children develop at their own pace, not forcing them into sitting or standing positions before they are ready, and observing what things make them feel safe and content–and providing those experiences.

    When they are toddlers, it means encouraging their natural curiosity and providing them with a variety of opportunities to connect with people, places, and things around them.

    As preschoolers, it means following their interests and not forcing them into learning concepts in order to “prepare them for school.”

    As young children, it means allowing them ample free time to pursue their passions–not signing them up for activities because it will “look good” or because it’s something you always wanted for yourself.

    In order to better understand your child’s development, it’s important to be aware of the concept of schema.

    Sign up here to get our FREE Quick Guide to Schema Play

    Common Schemas for Play

    Connecting and Disconnecting

    Children in this schema can be seen doing activities such as building train tracks, working with puzzles, joining things, lining toys up, or taking lids on and off. With this type of play, your child is trying to figure out how things fit together.

    Ways to support this schema: Train tracks, roadway building, construction materials, building materials that “fit together” like LEGO® or blocks. Even things such as tape, string, and velcro can be used to support kids within this schema.

    Orientation

    Playing in this schema involves things like swinging upside down, sitting in a chair the “wrong” way, and turning toys around to see things from different angles. This is children trying to figure out how the world looks through different points of view.

    Ways to support this schema: Mirrors, magnifying glasses, binoculars, climbing structures that allow them to climb or hang upside down.

    Transporting

    Kids who enjoy moving things from one place to another either use their hands or some sort of toy that can be filled, moved, and usually dumped. Children gain a sense of independence and responsibility when transporting items so you may find them eager to help you do chores that involve bringing something from point A to point B–like unloading groceries or moving clean laundry into the dryer.

    Ways to support this schema: Stroller or grocery cart, small boxes that can be easily picked up by little hands, a little backpack or pretend purse. Loose parts are also great in this schema because they are perfect for being loaded, moved, and unloaded over and over. A few pots filled with water or sensory bins that allow for kids to move things from one pot or bin to another are also good ideas for encouraging play within this schema.

    Trajectory

    This is a common schema that is focused on how things move. Children in this schema are studying how objects (or their body) move through the air. Remember your little one who constantly threw food off their highchair? They were learning about trajectory! Other activities that are a part of this schema are playing with running water, running, playing tag, throwing a ball, sliding down a slide (or watching how different objects slide down a slide).

    Ways to support this schema: Plenty of outdoor time and free space to run, throw things, pour water, send items down slides, or drop things from high places.

    Positioning

    Children working in this schema enjoy things like making patterns, lining up toys, ordering things in sequences. They will often spend a good amount of time trying to make things just right.

    Ways to support this schema: Loose parts that can be used to make patterns like the Grapat mandala pieces, small cars, or dolls.

    Enveloping

    This schema is all about wrapping things up. You may see them wrapping themselves in a blanket, wanting to put items in boxes, or swaddling their baby doll.

    Ways to support this schema: Give them plenty of blankets, pillows, silks, boxes, and anything else that allows them to cover and uncover themselves or their toys. Things like nesting bowls are also good for this schema.

    Enclosing

    This is similar to enveloping but more about creating a boundary. So for example, children working in this schema will create forts or make a fence for their farm animals. This schema is about containment.

    Ways to support this schema: Give children items to use to build forts (we love the Nugget®), large boxes, blocks that can be used to create a fence or boundary in some way.

    Rotation

    This schema involves anything that goes in a circular motion and can rotate. Things like wheels, washing machines, merry-go-rounds, and spinning around in circles are all a part of the rotation schema.

    Ways to support this schema: Provide your child with plenty of opportunities to play with streamers, spinning tops, and toys that have wheels. Household items like screwdrivers and nuts and bolts are also good for encouraging this schema.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • 100 Positive Things Parents are Experiencing Right Now

    Right now our world is filled with news about a virus spiraling out of control. Whole cities shutting down. Families being quarantined. Schools, businesses, restaurants and parks closing indefinitely. It’s a horribly stressful time for everyone.

    That said, it is in these times that it is the MOST important for us to look for the positives. There is always a silver lining.

    In just a few days, parents all over the country (and the world) have had their worlds turned upside down. Often having to work from home while also trying to continue their children’s learning.

    Read this list to see what parents have found to be unexpectedly amazing about having their family stuck at home.

    100 Positive Things Parents are Experiencing Right Now

    1. Discovering that your child has an incredible talent you never saw before.
    2. Being able to play with you kids during a lunch break.
    3. Drinking hot coffee with your significant other instead of in the car on the way to work.
    4. Being able to read your kids books before bed.
    5. Enjoying more meals together.
    6. Slow mornings that allow for a little reading, play or conversation before “going to work.”
    7. A longer shower.
    8. Comfortable clothes all day. Hello leggings!
    9. Learning new ways do elementary math.
    10. Introducing your kids to old movies.
    11. Reconnecting with nature, going on hikes, and bird watching.
    12. Teachers showing their ability to adapt.
    13. Parents showing their ability to lead their child’s education.
    14. Cancelling of standardized tests.
    15. Kids having time to engage in true play.
    16. More opportunities home cooking.
    17. Extra time with kids before they start formal schooling.
    18. Perfect time to potty train!
    19. Time for daily snuggles.
    20. Kids are able to sleep until their bodies are ready to wake up.
    21. Kids can slow down and enjoy breakfast and lunch.
    22. Watching your older children help support their younger siblings.
    23. Children making friends with kids around the country.
    24. Practicing language skills with children across the globe through online video chats.
    25. Grandparents tackling new technology to be able to see their grandkids.
    26. No alarms going off in the morning.
    27. Not having to pack lunches and snacks every morning.
    28. Being able to finally have a conversation with your teenager.
    29. Kids helping to cook and trying new foods while at home.
    30. Coming to the realization that your family is WAY over scheduled.
    31. Connecting with college aged friends and family to provide supplemental educational opportunities.
    32. Letting go of housework and reconnecting with family.
    33. Having extra time to learn new skills (riding a bike, knitting, gardening)
    34. Kids recognizing just how responsible and productive they are when they put their minds to something.
    35. Kids learning how to self-regulate their own schedules and take responsibility for their work.
    36. Having time to pursue passions outside of academic curriculum.
    37. Kids having ability to work on school work at their own pace without fear of judgement.
    38. Watching your kids take on projects just because they are interested in the topic.
    39. Being able to witness your child’s true ability shine through.
    40. Doing everything in pajamas.
    41. Wearing no real clothes so less laundry!
    42. Feeling like you finally understand your child’s needs, strengths and weaknesses and how these impact learning.
    43. Realizing homeschooling is not half as bad as you imagined it would be (in fact sort of liking it).
    44. Raising expectations for practical life skills and children rising to meet those expectations—hello laundry help!
    45. Breathing in more fresh air.
    46. School aged children starting to learn to play again.
    47. More awareness of amount of screen time.
    48. Being pleasantly surprised by what your child knows and can do.
    49. Learned to let go and let children do more for themselves.
    50. The ability to be a part of your child’s every day education and watching them grow.
    51. Breastfeeding moms not having to pump while at work!
    52. Learning that life needs to slow down and that we are rushing through moments that should be savored.
    53. Coming together to do all household work.
    54. Seeing first hand what classwork genuinely excites your child and what does not.
    55. Mid-day dance parties.
    56. Hearing your kids say they are actually enjoying learning.
    57. Being able to lean into the subjects and content you’re interested in and do them with your child.
    58. Sleeping in!
    59. Being aware of self-care while my children are watching.
    60. Siblings being able to spend more time together playing and learning.
    61. So much extra time to read and do things your enjoy.
    62. Actually laughing together.
    63. High fives from your kid when they figure something out.
    64. Whole families being able to take walks together.
    65. No fear of missing out.
    66. Being able to catch up on tasks and projects you’ve been putting off.
    67. Being able to discover new learning tools that you didn’t know existed—opening up a new world of learning for yourself and your child.
    68. Less arguments and no rushing to get dressed and out the door to catch the bus.
    69. Communities coming together to share resources, get creative and support each other in so many ways.
    70. Learning so much about your child’s real interests and passions.
    71. Being able to teach your child things you love to do.
    72. Realizing it’s okay to not know how to do something and figuring things out along the way (while your child watches)
    73. Learning to appreciate the flexibility in schedule of having kids home.
    74. Connecting on such a personal level with teachers and parents.
    75. Developing a new found respect for what teachers do every single day.
    76. Feeling a sense of pride for conquerer the learning curve of homeschooling.
    77. Learning to be more intentional with our time and resources.
    78. Becoming more aware of how your family can be more eco-conscious.
    79. Kids engaging in real authentic learning.
    80. Having more face to face and quality time with your family.
    81. Older siblings are being given the time and space to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.
    82. Children of all ages learning practical life skills!
    83. Knowing what your kids are learning, not just hearing about it after the fact.
    84. Not worrying about whether or not your kids are eating enough at school.
    85. The ability to catch up with friends who you’re normally too busy to call.
    86. Realizing that you have been way too caught up in your career to appreciate all the good things.
    87. Committing to being grateful for all the good things in your life.
    88. Not having to wear make up.
    89. Getting in hours more of outdoor play every day (even as a family!)
    90. People generally being kinder and trying to help others in their community.
    91. Being able to have more one on one time with your kids.
    92. Kids being able to work in any position they feel comfortable in (standing, pacing, laying on the floor)
    93. Watching your children become more creative.
    94. Being able to witness your child’s firsts.
    95. Paying more attention to your health and wellness.
    96. Feeling a sense of togetherness and community since everyone is going through the same thing.
    97. The pride and joy parents are experiencing when they come up with a really great project to do with their kids.
    98. More people considering how their behaviors impact the lives of others.
    99. Appreciating the mess that your kids make because you have no where to go and aren’t as stressed.
    100. Developing a totally different outlook about how learning should look, sound, and feel.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • Learning at Home When School is Closed: 5 tips

    5 Tips For Learning at Home When School is Closed

    Right now many parents are taking on the role of continuing their children’s learning at home when school is closed.

    Many public school districts are nowhere near ready to provide adequate online or distance learning. That, in and of itself, is a serious issue considering it’s 2020. But that discussion is better left for another day.

    Right now, we are witnessing the biggest homeschooling social experiment the U.S. has seen since our country started compulsory schooling in the state of Massachusetts in 1852. 

    The hardship that parents will feel is going to be brutal. Our country is inadequately prepared to help already disadvantaged families who will bear the brunt of this pandemic.

    School District are Worried

    Schools are worried about closing because of the amount of homeless and food insecure children they serve. Districts are scrambling to find ways to continue providing basic necessities to children in their school community. That is sickening.

    Finding childcare when you have to work in order to get paid, is going to be near impossible. People are going to go to work sick because they can’t take time off–for lack of paid sick time. It’s going to be an utter ❤️ show.

    All this said, we must try to find the positive and continue to practice gratitude.

    You are Where it Starts

    We have parents who are now home with their kids and who have a unique opportunity to re-engage in their children’s education–Not a teacher? Have no clue how you can support your child in learning? Remember that YOU are where it all began. Take this time to re-connect.

    Learning doesn’t mean schooling.

    There are so many ways you can support your child’s learning when school is closed. The most important thing is to step back and follow their lead and find a rhythm.

    Kids do thrive on predictability so try to think about how you can structure your day. You don’t have to be rigid about it, but it might make life easier for everyone if you come up with a rhythm that keeps you moving forward.

    You can download a free printable block schedule here.

    1. Ask them what excites them about school

    Is it art? Science? Reading? Gym? Start there.

    Pinterest up some art or science projects. Let them make their own creation with whatever art materials you have laying around. Watch what they create and build on it. Did they draw an animal? Find something to read about that animal.

    Did they create something abstract? Look up a Youtube video about abstract art.

    Let them come up with an experiment you guys can conduct at home. Talk about it. Have them write about it. Read about it.

    Do they love to read? Let them read and when they are done ask them questions. Have them draw the main character and write about the character’s personality. Look up graphic organizers for characterization, plot, theme (based on your child’s age) and you will find tons of activities for them to do relating to literacy.

    Read non-fiction. Check out Newsela for articles that allow you to customize by reading level. Do some research with them related to any content found in the article. Look at related pictures and talk through what you’re reading. Model engaging in content.

    Use phrases like “I wonder” and “What do you think….”

    Do they love physical education class? Do you have a backyard? Kick them outside for a few hours. Make an indoor obstacle course with couch pillows, step stools, boxes, painters tape. Get them doing something active. Have them shoot paper balls into a basket. Set up empty bottles as pinballs and let them do some house bowling. Do a workout together. Try yoga or pilates. There are tons of free videos online and you don’t need any real equipment.

    Are they budding mathematicians? Direct them to Khan Academy where they can do self-paced lessons online (just don’t let them sit online for hours on end).

    2. Involve them in your day to day

    You don’t have to do anything particularly academic if you don’t want to. Forget worksheets, learning apps and memorizing information. You can simply involve them in your day to day and talk to them about some of the tasks involved in being an adult (age appropriate of course).

    Learning at home is the perfect time for them to learn life skills.

    Have them help with laundry, or unload the dishwasher, or help fold clothes….let them make a grocery list and look up prices online. Give them a budget and see if they can add everything up and stay within that budget. Bake something from scratch and have them figure out converting measurements.

    Sit down and eat together. Drag out the meal to talk about the shape, size, color, texture or taste of different foods. Do a blind taste test or try out a new recipe and sample ingredients along the way.

    3. Get them outside

    Get. Them. Outside. Here is a list of 100 things to do outside with your kids  Some may not apply considering we should be trying to practice social distancing.

    4. Embrace boredom 

    It’s important, regardless of age, to allow your kid(s) time and space to be bored. Let them sulk. Let them complain. Give them encouragement to figure it out. Let them play, build, imagine, write, and create. Let THEM figure out how to spend their time with NO input from you. Figure out a particular time of day that works best for your family and keep it consistent. One of the best parts of learning at home is that children will have more time, and more space.

    5. Keep screens to a minimum

    It might be VERY easy to let screens take over. If you’re not used to limiting screen time in the afternoon when your child is home from school, or you’ve never had to because they are always in after school extracurriculars, then this might be especially difficult.

    Maybe your child has online school work to do. Or you’re having them do Khan academy math work. Maybe they are doing a coding app on an iPad. All fine.

    Just make sure you set limits and engage in these other activities that allow you to re-connect and re-engage in your child’s education in a meaningful way.

    How are you coping with learning at home? What activities do you have planned to help pass the time? Head over to our Facebook group to chat with like-minded families.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • Raise a Child Who Loves to Learn

    5 Must Read Books To Raise a Child Who Loves to Learn

    Are you interested in how you can help promote curiosity, independence, and self-motivation in your child? Do you want your child to actually love to learn?

    We know that so many children these days are losing this innate love of learning. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Read these five books to help you understand how to raise a child who loves to learn.

    #1 The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

    This book is great for anyone who is not familiar with the Montessori teaching approach and for people who have or work with younger children.

    It has tons of practical advice and ideas that are all based on the Montessori idea that teachers and parents are meant to be guides that follow the child’s lead. This book talks about trusting the child and fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity. The Montessori method seeks to develop a life long learner who is self-motivated and inquisitive. Children taught using the Montessori philosophy are often children who love to learn.

    #2 Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

    In this book Peter Gray writes about the decline in free play and emphasis on structured education and activities directly contributes to the rise in stress-related mental disorders and depression in young people.

    I recently published a more in depth book review here if you want to read that instead of the full text. I would, however, still encourage reading the book because it is incredible and will change your views on how children really learn.

    #3 Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children

    In this book the author, who is a pediatric occupational therapist, discusses how children benefits from having unstructured play outside. She explains how children are experiencing a record amount of cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness–all of which are impacting their ability and motivation to learn.

    #4 Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education

    Written by a global education thought leader this book will help you to understand how traditional schooling is going against what we know about how children learn and the best way to build on their natural curiosity.

    He touches on ideas such as:

    • Learning to be, do and know.
    • Tests don’t work. Get over it. Move on.
    • What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom.
    • Animals are better than books about animals.
    • Internships, apprenticeships, and interesting jobs beat term papers, textbooks, and tests.
    • The only sustainable answer to the global education challenge is a diversity of approaches.

    #5 The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

    If you are really interested in the future of education then this is the book for you. This book was life changing for me as an educator (along with Laura Sandefer’s book Courage to Grow). Our public education system is struggling in more ways than one, and this book discusses how we can capitalize on students innate drive to learn (that are discussed more deeply in some books listed above) and deliver a world class education to anyone, anywhere all while following the child.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

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