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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Preschool Pointers - 23: Starting and Exiting Games


Your kids want to play with you. All the time. Their games are simply more fun if you're there, on the floor, a willing participant to their madness. And who can blame them? After all, you're pretty rad. And playing with your kids is pretty important. I remember, even as an older kid, the treat it was when we could convince our parents to take part in one of our games. It lent the whole thing legitimacy, made it special. But how many hours can you spend on the floor playing "Rapunzel" with your old scarf? There must be a happy medium.


Play with them when they ask. Immediately if you can, or putting them off by only a few minutes here and there (so that when you actually can't play with them, they'll know that you'll play with them as soon as you can and won't give up because they sadly know it will never happen, but instead because they know it will happen at some point, and so they don't have to be right up your butt for it.) As you start a game, give them roles, so that they start to feel in charge of the game. Perhaps you lay down a few rules, but then have them take over the policing of the rules, or teach them how to do whatever it is themselves. If you're playing, say, Rapunzel, make them both very important characters, and give yourself a character who maybe doesn't quite make it (like Mother Gothel).

As they become more absorbed in the game, start taking a step back gradually, urging them to fill in the gap with their own imaginations and praising them when they come up with alternate routes and ideas. By doing this, you're slowly transforming yourself from active participant to guide. Then, eventually, you'll be able to simply say, "okay, you guys take it from here, I have to ____ now, but I had so much fun!"

If they protest, play a little longer but give them a limit. "Okay, but this will be my last turn, okay?" Usually they'll be having so much fun with the game itself, they won't even need you and will be able to carry on without you, willingly and happily.


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