Think back to when you were a young child. Can you remember playing with your parents, perhaps particularly with your mother? Or if you are a parent or grandparent now, do you play with a baby or pre-schooler in your family? Perhaps peekaboo behind a sofa, singing songs in the car, baking up a storm in the kitchen, finding critters under stones, writing with your finger on fogged up windows, reading books before bedtime.
These are not only fun times, they are crucial for a child’s learning and bonding. According to Raising Children Network, the Australian parenting website, ‘In the early years, your child’s main way of learning and developing is through play.’
It was with this understanding that the team at Broadmeadows Women’s House in Melbourne developed a series of ‘Fun and Free’ supported playgroups with mothers and children, many from families who highly valued ‘education’, but saw it as something that happened outside the home by professionals. They were not aware how valuable playing with their baby or toddler at home was.
Using objects found in any home, the mums and kids at the supported playgroups created cushion mountains, bounced teddies on blankets, drummed on upturned containers and explored dinosaur footprints in the garden. The main focus became encouraging the mothers to notice what their children were doing when they played, to join in with them without taking over, and ultimately to value the quality of their everyday interactions with their children as fundamental to their child’s development and their relationship with them.
With seeding funding from Hume City Council Innovations Grant, the Women’s House approached Innovative Resources to partner with them in producing a resource that could be used by others to support their own playgroups. And that’s how Play Together Learn Together, a delightful and very practical 68 page ebook, was born. Download the PDF and you’ll find the background story, 20 ‘cards’ you can print out, and lots of ways to use the resource. The cards are divided into five suits Let’s move, let’s be close, Let’s follow, Let’s explore, and Let’s talk and listen. On every card you’ll find sample play-learn activities with children at home, at pre-schools and kindergartens, and in playgroups. This resource can also be used in training early childhood educators.
C’mon Mums and Dads—get your play groove on at home!
Play Together Learn Together—a resource for building play between children and adults now available as an ebook