I want my son to play. I want him to explore. I want him to be independent. I want him to learn. But, I want him to do it my way… and that defeats the purpose.
I am trying very hard to let go of the “right way” to play or paint or work on special projects. The right way is however (as long as it’s safe) he wants to do it. So, why am I getting in the way? Why do I jump in when he’s perfectly content and try to change things up? Why do I place restrictions when there’s no harm being done?
Messes can be cleaned up, pictures can be painted any color, and all different toys (animals, construction trucks, and play food, for example) can all interact. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, that’s how it should be. Books can become tunnels, dinosaurs can go for rides on fire trucks, and shoes can become garages. All of the fingerpaints can be mixed together so that every picture ends up brown. The macaroni that was so carefully dyed and sorted to use for art work or jewelry is, we have recently discovered, really fun to crush. Smashing it with a block or stomping on it with our feet can provide just as much entertainment (if not more) than gluing it to a piece of paper.
Parents, myself included, need to stop pushing their own agendas when it comes to play. Since I’ve become more aware of my own control issues, I’ve been better about letting him take the lead. But, when I come up with a new and different way to play with something, I still find myself trying to influence and get my son excited about MY idea. Now, I know that scaffolding is an important part of learning and, in my mind, that’s what I’m trying to do. However, I think I’m still running the show a little too much. I need to back off. I need him to investigate. I need him to be creative. I need him to grow. I need him to teach me – his way.
For more information on this topic, please see this article that I stumbled upon the other night: http://childhood101.com/2012/02/let-go-and-let-them-learn