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Guided Play is so important to the all over growth of your child's development. Role Play is a beautiful example of how children can transform themselves into another "character". Depending upon which toys or materials you provide, will determine where your children take themselves. It may be to outer space, the grocery store, an amusement park, a flower shop or a medical centre. Wherever it is, children will draw upon their own personal experiences to immerse themselves into a world of imagination .

Today at Tightrope Learning, I set out items which are found in cafes, grocery stores, kitchens, restaurants and food stores. The children immediately started talking. It was important to allow them time to EXPLORE the play items to connect personally. It is here where children will bring in their own personal experiences of having seen, buying or ordering these things. This HANDS ON time helped the children to interact not only with the materials, but with each other.

As the play continued, the children naturally took on separate roles. They did not formally assign these roles, it just happened. They took turns speaking, even taking on the voices to suit the setting. They used appropriate language, which developed new VOCABULARY. This process develops RELATIONSHIPS. The use of the word "Ma'am" indicates this little girl's awareness of how to ADDRESS ADULTS. This brings to light the importance of MODELLING correct language when interacting with others in front of our children. (Not always an easy task I know).

Another benefit of Guided Play is PROBLEM SOLVING. During today's play, one of the children wanted to set up "a bakery". Rather then telling her how to make it, I questioned her, guiding her thought process into thinking for herself. This allowed her to succeed in solving her own problem. Rather than having the items in the bakery on hand, she came up with her own idea of using other items in the room and even making cupcakes and lollies using play doh.

I remember when my own 3 children were this age...when "mess" more often than not did my head in {insert sigh} BUT try and let it go! You can hear one of the little girls comment that we were making a mess, but I reminded her that we were having fun and that mess can be fixed. Having my children now all grown up, I have come to realise that these moments of "messy play" come and go WAY too fast, so make the most of it now mummy and daddy!!!

Perhaps one of the most lovely moments of today's Guided Play was the way in which the girls included me in their imaginative adventure. While this playtime is so important for children and their peers or friends, it can also be the perfect time for us to grab a hot tea or coffee, read a trashy mag or put our feet up for a while while the kiddos take care of themselves. Believe me, I'm all across this! I did the same thing! Just remember that kids love you being a part of their discoveries too and the way we GUIDE their play is so rewarding. So....try to

maintain a balance of playing WITH them and spending time to yourself...BOTH are equally important.

Above all else, remember that you are doing a beautiful job and your child loves you xxx

X Mary-Ellen

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