Wednesday Walkthrough...your child's playroom

This week I had my first visit from a Parents as Teachers rep. Parents as Teachers is a program offered by our public school where they send a representative to your home once a month to gauge how your child is developing and suggest ways to increase their learning. Since this was our first meeting, it mainly centered around answering questions and evaluating where my baby girl is on the growth, ages and stages chart.

One of the handouts she gave me during our session caught my eye. It's simply titled "Your Role as a Parent," and it suggests three primary roles that a parent is supposed to take on for his/her child: 1) Consultant 2) Authority 3) Designer. Designer caught my eye. I am a designer for my child. The handout elaborates, "As a designer, you provide interesting play materials and experiences that promote your child's natural curiosity and problem solving."

Designer. I've never thought of myself as a designer. I investigated more. The dictionary defines designer as "one who creates and often executes plans for a project." Designer and creator go hand-in-hand. Creation didn't end at conception; it continues as a living member of my job description as a mom.

Suddenly my flippant attitude about playtime metamorphosed into a desire to meet the challenge and DESIGN the most creative and learning-filled play room/time possible. Maybe it's the writer in me, but a challenge to design, to create, to take an empty room and make it a world of learning inspired me. An indignation rose up within me to be the best designer of my child's playtime possible. It's not just about burning the time until the next meal or nap; it's a world of creativity where every color, shape, movement, etc. counts for an opportunity to learn and problem solve.

I only remember moments of my childhood, but what stands out to me are the feelings that swelled within when I was given a crayon to draw on a new sheet of paper, a toy with buttons and doors that opened and closed, a play set made of wood with swings, ladders and bars. That sense of possibility. Oh the things I could do with those objects.

My goal is to cram as many possible of those swells of desire into my daughter's childhood. My pledge is to never impede my child's ability to learn because of my laziness to provide an atmosphere of learning and creativity.

What about you, dear reader? Please share with all of us some of your favorite designs--activities you've planned or decorations you've deliberately used in your playroom to tickle the imagination and release creativity.


Lisa Ensor said...

I LOVE this post! That's made me really think... one of my favorite things baby B's room is colorful mobile, his bucket of blocks and his tent from IKEA! I try to take the time to spin the mobile during each diaper change and count 1,2,3 as I do it. He pulls out his bucket of blocks and I sit and build them up so he can knock them down! Our newest favorite activity is his small $10 tent from IKEA, we sneak inside and hide from the world or he picks books for me to read to him as he sits in my lap.
But now that I think about it... he may like just exploring out in the backyard. He just loves being outside!

Jordon King said...

This really made me think, Joy. I often find myself having to tell Pyper, “not right now”, because I am caught up in homework or house work. This has really been an eye opener. When I do spend time with Pyper we read and read, she loves books. Her favorite at the moment is Where The Wild Things Are, we read it every night before she goes to sleep. She has a big tub full of books that I have collected that she delves into. She loves getting her toys out of her toy box, she digs and digs until every last one is out and then chooses which toy is left on the floor to play with. This has made me think; maybe I’ll get a smaller box full of blocks with letters and as she pulls them out, I can say the letter or number to help her learn. I think this might work!-that way she will be learning ‘her way’ (chaotically) and ‘my way’ (controlled) too.  You are an inspiration of learning to all mothers!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a child, but I still love what you wrote, Joy, because it brought back childhood memories--GOOD childhood memories. One of my favorite gifts for my 6th birthday was a package of markers. I remember sitting on the living room floor, designing, creating, imagining, dreaming--all on white paper with magic-creating colors in my hand. Kudos to you for wanting to inspire Andie to be who she is!
-Danielle Palmer

Joy said...

Great post! Last week, was my mother-in-law's birthday. I gave Leia small pieces of white paper and crayons. She scribbled and then I glued them to a blank red card. Then I gave her paper flowers with adhesive already on them and some stickers and I let her stick them to the card. She had tons of fun and "MiMi" loved her card! She's really into taking care of her babies right now. She copies a lot of what I do with Steven, so sometimes I show her how to put a baby in her play stroller or other mommy stuff. I love seeing her learn new things and explore new ways of playing with things!