Seminar recap: The Value of Play with Margery Healey

Our first of three parenting seminars happened this week with the amazing Margery Healey, The Compassionate Parent Coach.

Here are some highlights from her talk, which was interesting, thoughtful, and full of some great learnings!

First, as a parent coach, Margery’s role as a coach is not about telling you what to do, but about helping you parent with confidence. She wants parenting to be a completely joyful experience! There is never any judgement in coaching, which is a common misconception.

Our first seminar topic was The Value of Play, which discussed the importance of free and independent play (vs. too much scheduled/structured activity) for developing critical life skills in your little ones.

Here are a few highlights and interesting notes I picked up:

– Today, we are raising our families differently from the last generation. Families are more isolated compared to one generation ago, and as a result, there is much more structured activity instead of free and open play.

– While structured activity is great, there can be too much of it. If there is too much structured activity, then kids become accustomed to always doing what somebody is telling them to do, not developing their own preferences and choices.

Four ways free play helps grow your child:

1. Interior Life – the ability to think in one’s own thoughts
Meta cognitive thought is developed largely through free play and is part of brain development. Kids are thinking as they are playing and this is how this skill is developed. You cannot develop such inner thoughts if someone is always telling you what to do.

2. Boredom can be a good thing
A constant fear as parents is: don’t let your kids get bored! Keep them busy! I know I’ve had these thoughts. Boredom can actually be celebrated. It’s a place of infinite possibility because you can go in any direction. Helping your children figure out how to solve their boredom taps into their extrinsic motivation. Kids can learn to look after their own boredom and by doing so will figure what they like and don’t like. By them choosing what to do next, they will be choosing something meaningful to them.

3. Image Making / Visualization
This is another internal skill kids develop through free and open play – kids need some free time to develop this creative process. Some ideas on how to build images in a kid’s mind: read to them without pictures or listen to stories on CD so they can create their own imagery.

4. Creative Expression
If a child uses an app on your iPad or is in directed play, these experiences have limitations. You can only be as great as directed in these scenarios, while with free play you can be so much more. Free play will give your kids the realization that “I can do this better.” Through free play, kids can learn the idea of flexible creativity and see themselves as having different ideas and options. They see themselves as someone who can elaborate – take something and make it greater.

Of course, Margery is not saying to never have structured play as there are benefits to both types of activity. Just remember that next time your child is playing around with their toys, they are indeed doing some serious growing and development.

Thanks to everyone who attended this seminar! Margery and I hope you join us one of our future seminar topics – Brain Compatible Parenting on November 28th and Media Literate Homes on January 22nd.

And thank you to Nestings Kids for hosting our seminars at their fabulous store! They are also offering 10% off all purchases during these seminars.

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