Invitations to Play:  A Misunderstood Concept

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.

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.

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.

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!).

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