Guest Post – Meagan Forsgren
It’s not every day I get to share my personal story of why my Mom makes such a great teacher and mentor for hundreds of children and students who struggle with education and learning disabilities, but the answer is simple. She makes a great teacher because she is a great Mom!
Sure, we had our challenges growing up, and there was never enough time for everything, but some of my fondest memories as a child were when we played with my Mom. Queue story of the Three Little Pigs. We loved reading books together before bed every night, and our favorite was the Three Little Pigs. Every night my mom would put on her best “wolfy” voice and say, “Little Pig, Little Pig, let me in.” She would even go outside the room and chase us around pretending to be the big bad wolf. My brother and I would scream and run and hide in the bed or on the couch. We had so much fun, I never knew the playful relationship I had with my mom had any impact on learning and my education.
As I became more familiar about how she helps kids learn and reach their potential in the classroom, I soon realized what a huge impact “parent play” has on a child’s social interaction, ability to build relationships, and how it establishes a healthy mental and emotional bond with their peers.
You may not see the correlation between education and playing with your child at first, but if you think about all the components of “parent play,” it creates an environment for sound, movement, and sometimes singing. Doing a few fun and simple activities with your child each day, not only creates a foundation for building relationships, it also helps your child build their vocabulary, learn to process information, and follow instructions. All of these tools and resources pave the way for a classroom setting and how they will eventually interact with their co-workers and bosses.
Most children develop a desire and enthusiasm for this type of interaction naturally. During the first year of life, children love and crave social interaction, especially from parents. Parent play is especially important for children with delays because their social interactions may take longer to develop. They may be able to communicate in a way to get their basic needs met, but they haven’t learned to interact with other children or even with you for the “people value.”
The more we observe children in social settings, the more obvious it is to pick out the children who prefer toys over socializing with their friends and adults. Children who struggle with socializing and who prefer to be alone generally have fewer opportunities to communicate and talk, which could lead to speech delays or make it harder for them to express their wants and desires in school or with their teacher.
As a parent, it is important to ask yourself, “is my child more interested in people or things.” If your child struggles with social interactions, parent play becomes that much more essential. You are your child’s “safe place” that allows them to learn the value of people instead of things. The goal is to help your child develop a hunger for you that is greater than his or her hunger for toys and objects. We love when parents become their child’s most fun and flexible toy so they develop the desire to learn and grow from your example. Don’t be shy! Be animated and show them that social interactions can be more interesting then their distractions. You don’t want to be replaced by wood, plastic, and microchips do you?
How to Start with Parent Play
If you are having trouble with ideas or getting started, remember anything with vocal and facial expressions, animal noises, and interactions that encourage conversation helps your child feel success. Keep it fun! You can be your child’s most powerful motivator.
Some of the ideas we came up with not only get the two of you interacting with each other, but also encourage movement and singing. These activities are fun and easy to do at home.
Parent Play Activities
- Once there was a Snowman
- Incy Wincy Spider
- Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
- Hokey Pokey
- Peas Porridge Hot
- Five Little Monkeys
- Five Little Ducks
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs