Of all the topics we cover over the 30 days of this challenge, the ability to observe your child is the most impactful.
Pay attention to what they are doing. Really look. Sit in silence for a few minutes and just watch them play.
A two-year-old might repeat the same action over and over again. A train going through a tunnel, a doll wrapped in a blanket. Even if you aren't interested in the theory behind their actions, in this case schema play, you'll learn a lot simply by watching and assessing. What can my child do? What other experiences could I offer that present the same challenges? Can I extend the learning by offering new materials or a different context?
Through your observations, you are looking for ways to help your child make new connections.
A five-year-old who loves snakes and ladders and using a 100 square might enjoy playing battleships. The grid is still 10 x 10 but the focus is on co-ordinates. This might then lead to crosswords, draughts and programmable robots. From there it's only a small leap to simple coding with software like Scratch.
But if you weren't looking, if you didn't notice that your child was interested in grids, none of this can happen.
Take five minutes now and watch your child play. What will you observe? Where might it lead?
Here's the rest of the series:
Encourage open-ended play for creativity and focus
Understanding schema play in toddlers
Independent play and why it matters
Insider Guide: Small World Play and Language
Tell Almost Any Story with Just a Handful of Figures
A simple guide to choosing the right toy