In Building on Emergent Curriculum: The Power of Play for School Readiness, author Sarah Vanover, PhD suggests ways educators can guide families to encourage play at home.
“Family members often wonder how to incorporate more play into their children’s routines outside the classroom. Most families have such busy schedules that they have trouble setting aside large blocks of time for creating and imagining in the evenings and on the weekends,” states Vanover. She recommends encouraging families not to overschedule their children’s calendars. “During preschool, they need unstructured time to learn and grow.”
“Even if families spend a lot of time away from their homes, they still have many ways to incorporate play into daily life,” says Vanover. She suggests early childhood educators encourage family members to use activities such as the following to increase the amount of playtime they have with their children. Our editorial team added links to additional family-friendly, at-home activities.
- Play simple games in the car, such as I Spy or finding pictures in the clouds.
- Cook together. This messy-play opportunity also allows children to practice math skills such as measuring and fine motor skills such as pouring and stirring. You can even try “cooking” playdough, an activity from Kick-Start Kindergarten Readiness!
- Along with or instead of reading picture books at bedtime, family members can take turns creating short stories. Try the Story Starter activity from What Does a Lion Say?
- Find ways to turn daily chores into games, such as matching socks by color or jumping into piles of leaves before bagging them up.
- Turn grocery shopping into a scavenger hunt. Instead of going straight to the correct aisles, have children offer ideas about where to look for certain products. You could also try the teddy bear scavenger hunt or other neighborhood games in Little Walks, Big Adventures!
- Enjoy some water play during bath time. Place measuring cups and spoons in the tub to help children learn about size and volume. Try the Bathtub Water Play activity from Banish Boredom!
- Build a blanket fort in the living room, or have a picnic on the kitchen floor.
- Sing songs and dance together. Find or create unique songs that can help with daily routines, such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, or making beds.