This basic, simple truth has been at the core of every child’s development since time began. It is through their daily interactions with creative exploration that children learn, not only about their world but also their personal role in it. As mindful parents and caregivers the value of providing a safe, simple and nurturing play environment is our essential responsibility. This does not mean providing a plethora of toys to fill up empty spaces. Children love to explore and create and are quite capable of entertaining themselves if given the proper tools and setting. They thrive in calm, ordered spaces and the quantity of play materials does not outweigh the quality. It has been a long standing observation that given a collection of toys or large boxes, children will most often gravitate to the large boxes. The empty space found within the set boundaries of the box provides free rein for their creativity to blossom.
As outcome focused adults, it is too often the case that we feel the need to orchestrate the type of play our children will engage in. Even though it is with every good intention, we actually rob our children of their all-important developmental need to make it up as they go along. Children learn every conceivable skill through their play. Testing themselves with constant repetition (what might seem mindless to adults) is essential as the concept of cause and effect is being explored. Basic math skills are learned by sorting sizes, shapes and colours. Concentration develops their patience for understanding more complex theories and engages them to think things through on their own. Children actually enjoy problem solving without always needing an adult to dictate the result.
Never underestimate the value of allowing your children to be left to their own devices to be creative. Be an observer. Pay close attention to ensure they are safe, but trust that they are capable of entertaining themselves and whatever the outcome of that moment, it is exactly what it is meant to be.