You've heard of the slow food revolution - what about having a 'slow playing' revolution too?
I remember many slow walks around the block with my small toddlers. Sometimes of course they would run – but very soon they would notice something that needed a thorough investigation. Or need to retrace their steps to say hello to a cat. The poor termites on the trees would need to be disturbed, a small piece of mud pulled away to see them scurry and rebuild, or a broken birds egg would need a long look. Feathers and stones needed to be put into pockets and when their pockets got full moms pockets had to be filled. Winged seeds needed to be thrown up to “fly away and ‘gwow’ big”
When we got home there would be a long drink and a slow munch of a banana, a peanut butter sandwich or a Marie biscuit while chatting and playing with whatever was the favourite toy at the time. Then maybe a simple game of picture dominoes or ‘What does little bear eat?’. And then the long readings of books sometimes each book 3 or 4 times over...And maybe a long play with teddies or cars or lego. Or painting pictures on the patio tiles, or making mud pies. And the long soapy hand washing in the sink, turning a little bubble covered arm this way and that in the sun to see and wonder at the bright reflections in the soapy bubbles. Then eyes would get tired and moms lap would be climbed into and eyes would close and sleep take over.
I am such a fan of ‘slow’ playing and of following the child’s interest, rhythms and tempo. And when new things are introduced making sure that they are age appropriate and do not discourage a child by being too difficult to do.
Of course there were times when I had to hurry my children but I really tried to follow or accompany as much as possible and only lead to introduce something I know they were ready for – or of course to help them to learn some social ‘rules’ like not grabbing other children’s dummies from them...
I did not always succeed – can anyone? And yes, there were times I longed to be able to walk fast and purposefully as I had before children (and now can again). Or times I had had enough of feeding teddy...But at least I think I meant to and succeeded in allowing my children when they were pre-schoolers time to think, consider, put into practise their own ideas and live life at their own pace most of the time. Including me directly when they needed to but always with me somewhere close and visible so that exploring felt safe and they could turn and find me there accompanying them in my mind if not in actions.
I believe strongly that children do need (not just want) to develop, move and play at their own pace rather than at ours. I am convinced it will help them to feel more confident, less stressed and more resilient and emotionally balanced later. I think that they will know themselves better. That this will contribute to their being able to thoughtfully and with self-understanding, find a way to live their life that gives them the most satisfaction and pleasure. And patience, tolerance and gentleness to others too...