Today,  Renée Peña joins us as a guest blogger sharing her expertise in the importance of play.  She has some great suggestions of how to incorporate play into our daily lives with children.  So, please read, enjoy and share your suggestions too!   You can follow Renée on Twitter @enrichingkids. ~EMP

Someone once said: “Play is the beginning of knowledge.” Recently, I hosted a Twitter Party on the importance of play. My reason for hosting the party was to start a conversation on why play is important in our lives.  As we tweeted we were all in agreement that play is an important life skill.  It helps us with our problem solving and language development.

As a preschool teacher and owner of an enriching babysitting service, Creative Sitters, I have seen many parents who are concerned about their children, worried that their lives were being over scheduled.  They fear that their child is missing out on their childhood but feared even more that their child would be behind academically. Understandably so as the National Standards are higher and based on test results that decide your child’s future, thanks to tracking.

So then what is parent, teacher, and child to do about the importance of play in our chaotic lives?  Try to integrate it in our daily lives as my sitters do with the children they sit for.  But how in our busy lives do we integrate it into our daily routine?  I would like you to consider the following list:

1. Schedule playtime in your calendar and make it a point to follow through. The first thing, as they always say is being aware.

2. Make homework time fun and interactive by making the lesson come alive for your child.

3. Take a walk and turn it into a I spy or treasure hunt (everyone loves making a silly pirate accent.)

4. Create your own art gallery out of everyday objects.

5. Make up your own language with your child.

6.  Use your camera to take pictures of what you view as interesting along your journey to school with your child.  And later create a slide show to show the rest of the family.

7. Tell a story with your child. You can start it and the child can finish the ending of the story. This can be done through pictures as well as words.

8. Make shopping a joy by creating a fantasy world. For example, tell your child that you are getting ready for a ball and have to shop for everyone in the kingdom.  “So what meals shall we chose for the ball?”

9. If your child is old enough, have them join you in the kitchen as your sous chef.  Cooking is a great version of play and has such a yummy result.

10. Laugh at mistakes, use them as a learning tool of play to solve the issue at hand.

Looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your suggestions too.

Happy Playtime, Everyone!