Play – It’s Their Job

One of my biggest concerns about publishing No Time For Flash Cards is that all the content could give readers the impression that we are advocating strict, structured learning day in and day out for the very young child. Does this look strict or structured?

When readers see our children make crafts, dig in tubs of beans and participating in adult driven activities daily on the blog it can give the impression that we are all doing this all day but really what our kids do for the majority of the day is what kids should be doing, playing.

Today I am devoting this post not to a tutorial of any craft, tips for sneaking adult directed learning in to a game or activity instead it’s just pictures of my kids at  play. No mom directed agenda just kid directed ( sometimes mom RE directed though) fun and learning. Learning? Yes learning! Children are always learning and you don’t need to have a strict agenda all the time, take time to  just play.

I admit having taught and lead children through directed and facilitated play for so long I revert to teacher mode a lot ( especially if I have an extra kid at my house) so I have had to chill out and just follow. It’s awesome.  We do mama directed activities most days , sometimes we do 3 or 4 but then sometimes we go days and days without, but we play every day. Remember that play is their job! Let them get to work .

So I ask you:  What did you play today?

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  1. says

    Ha, I lke how she’s just lying there letting him doctor on her. That’s hilarious. She’s got the most serious look on her face.

    Today, we are having a paperball war… the kids have never done this before but they’re about to find out about it. All you need are a few old coloring sheets or homework. Wad them up really tight and use the furniture in the room as baracades and fortresses. No one gets hurt playing this and there are no winners or losers. The objective is to avoid getting hit while attempting to hit others (with the paper balls of course). Going to write an instructional post about this one…might do a video just to catch the kids’ reactions lol.

  2. Katie says

    What a great post! Today my two year old is wearing a construction belt, a pirate hat, has a play coffee pot in one hand and pushing a baby carriage in the other! I’m not quite sure of what exactly he is doing, but is sure looks fun. LOVED your little reminder!

  3. Tricia says

    Love the pictures! The kids look like they are having a blast. Yesterday he wanted to read books most of the day, so that is what we did. Today the megabloks are out. The weather is supposed to be beautiful today so I see time outside playing on the swingset and riding his tricycle. Then I predict much crying when it is time to come in for a nap because he loves to be outside. LOL

  4. says

    Thank you for this post! I struggle finding a balance between “learning” activities and free play. I’m learning, though! And it is much easier to learn when fantastic websites like yours publish posts like this.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  5. says

    I love the doctor photo – too funny. Our daughter has a few YOYO hours every day (you are on your own time), but mostly she chooses to spend her time reading. Lately her favorite game was practicing to fly paper airplanes.

  6. says

    Today we are doing dress-ups. Elli has tried on just about every article in the box! And we played Connect 4 (I did sneak in practicing sorting and learning yellow). Both were her idea and started on her direction. Though Connect 4 ended on the baby’s say so. So far it’s been a fun day!

  7. Laura says

    Really enjoyed looking at your site. I totally agree about letting the kids be kids and play all they want. But we sometimes need to help direct or redirect them. Looking forward to seeing other ideas. Thanks =)

  8. Amanda says

    I love your blog, this has really helped me and some of the other teachers here teaching in our nursery in Korea. In Korea it’s very hard to find that balance because depending on where one lives in the capital (Seoul) parents expect them to be bilingual and able to read fluently and write perfectly (in English) by the age of 4. Most of the 7 year olds I have taught can already write short stories and understand how to make complex paragraphs but there is not a huge emphasis on time to play and creativity. Most of the kids only get about 2 hours of play time per week and maybe 25 hours of work. I think since we are pushed to teach them so many advanced things we tend to push flash cards and writing which is stressful and un-natural for ages 2-4. This site is great and we are finding it a great help, this has really been a blessing to find and we are able to teach the materials the parents want and make it creative with your help!! Thank you so much, I totally agree with this article and we here in South Korea will keep looking out for more updates!!

  9. admin says

    Thank you so much for the comments these just affirm that this post wasn’t just my musings and random cute photos of my kids with my very lived in family room … see why we need a bigger house, they NEED a playroom. Anyway I appreciate these comments so much- thank you!!

  10. wendy says

    Awesome post! I just blogged about our play day this afternoon. We played Ferdinand, Frog and Toad, and St. Patrick’s Day Parade today.

    BTW, it’s okay if your kids don’t have a play room! We have a medium sized house with no specific play room and we make due wherever.

  11. Heidi says

    Thank you for this post. I frequently look to your blog for structured ideas to do with my kids and some days I feel like a bad mom if I don’t have something planned. It’s nice to see kids just loving what they do best, playing! Great pictures and I just love seeing kids creative minds at play!

  12. Megan says

    We built with blocks and played with the packing paper that came in a package I ordered! Who knew playing with packing paper could be so fun!?

    I totally agree with you on this subject. Playing IS their job…it’s so important. We do structured activities, too, but we make sure play time happens as well. Thanks for sharing your great perspective!

  13. Julie L. says

    I’m glad to see this post! It is easy to lose sight of what kids really need to be doing. I find some activities directed by me help pass the time and are easier to see the “learning” in. Ultimately letting kids really discover the world on their own has such value though. Love to see other people working on finding that balance.

  14. Alicia says

    Thanks for this post! Love the pics too. Today my son (same age as yours) actually choose to play with some paper dolls that I taken out for my niece yesterday! I was shocked and delighted to have a break from the boy games and toys!!

    One challenge I have is that my son always wants to play with me or my husband. We played for three hours this afternoon while my daughter was napping and he still cried when she woke up that he wanted to play more. I try to get him engaged to play on his own but some days it is challenging. How much do you participate in play time?? Any tips on how to encourage it more?


    • admin says

      My son almost always wants me to play too- not unusual for first/ only children at this age in my experience. What we have noticed works the best is to see what toys he plays with well solo and buy more/ encourage play with those. Also it seems when I am busy cleaning he is happy alone… not sure if that is an attempt to avoid cleaning but it’s true.

      • Alicia says

        Good to hear that this is not unusual! Ironically right before you posted the road map activity he and his dad built a road after seeing one in an I Spy book and he has been playing with that for hours! So you are right…its just a matter of figuring out what can keep him interested. If only it wouldn’t change all of the time! And you are SO right about the cleaning. Asking him to clean up is a sure way to get him to play on his own!! LOL! Thanks for the feedback!! =)


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