Children are happiest when they have purposeful work that they had a part in choosing, but it’s our job to direct them to the right type of choice.
Children, of course, need lots of time for open-ended play as well, but when you see a child breaking the rules, try to look for the impulse behind it and help him find a way to be successful.
Is your toddler carrying around a step stool and knocking things over? Perhaps they’re looking for some heavy lifting. Try taking them out to the backyard and letting them move some stones to create a new flower bed border or carry buckets of water to fill up the kiddie pool.
Are they throwing sand out of the sandbox? Show them a purposeful way to use the sand. Demonstrate how to build a sand castle or show them how to sift the sand to get rid of any rocks that have found a way in.
Are they trying to cut a page in a book? Give them work with scissors, perhaps trimming the grass outside. Or simply give them a basket of paper scraps they can cut to their heart’s content. They could save them for future collage work.
Are they throwing the laundry on the floor while you try to fold it? Maybe they want to help, to be part of the action. Show them how to organize the laundry into piles of pants, shirts.
Play is a child’s work.
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