A strong connection creates a safe space to help children regulate their emotions, become secure in their attachments and gives them the foundation they need to learn. I believe connecting through bookish play is essential for your child’s development.
Working with many different families as an Early Interventionist (Birth to 3 years) and Parent Educator since 2006, I have seen many successful connections made. The progress that is made by the child because of it is astounding.
What is Connecting through Bookish Play?
In its simplest terms, it is understanding your child, listening to them, letting them lead, setting clear boundaries, providing a safe space for them to express their feelings, and helping them find the tools to handle their big emotions. It is all these things and so much more; that it is hard to put into words.
First things first…
What type of play do you enjoy? What type of play brings joy to your little ones face?
There are many ways to connect with your child. You can reflect on your own preferences as well as your child’s. Its okay to recognize when you (or your child) don’t enjoy something. In fact, I think it is just as important to know what you don’t like.
For example, I personally do not love the outdoors or going to the playground. In theory it sounds fun, but just about every time I push myself to do it I remember again how much its not for me.
This is when the dreaded MOM GUILT arrives at my door. But then I remember I don’t have to let it inside. I accept my personal preference, find something we can both enjoy and focus on that.
Speaking from experience, pushing your child or yourself to do something you dislike often ends miserably.
On the other hand, I have figured out 1) what I love to do, 2) what she loves to do, and 3) what we both love to do together!
And the winners (for us) are…Reading Children’s Books, Sensory Play, and Art.
If you have just one thing on your list so far, its okay, its a start!
Although, I’m guessing you also enjoy Children’s Books along with Sensory Play and/or Art, am I right? 😉
Connecting through Bookish Play is Not…
Connecting through bookish play is not about being perfect. Its about learning everything you can about your favorite little person.
It is not about having the right materials to play with. The key ingredient is YOU and your attention.
It is not about entertaining them, keeping them busy, getting them to leave you alone or pacifying them. It is about being present, in the moment, with your child…and ENJOYING it.
Yes that is definitely possible…if you work on it 🙂
How do you Connect through Bookish Play?
All you need to get started is you, your child and some time. Let’s face it, we’re all very busy these days. I get it, there are chores to do, work to be done, places to go, people to see, etc… But when something is a priority you make the time.
This has to be your priority, if its not, you have stumbled upon the wrong blog.
At the end of the day, are you going to feel content knowing that there are no dishes in the sink or knowing that you connected with your child?
You can learn how to connect through play by reading this blog and discovering what works for you and your child.
Just one example of Connecting through Bookish Play
As I mentioned earlier, I love reading Children’s Books, Sensory Play and Art. This is how I connect with my child. We read books ALL.THE.TIME. We cuddle up on the couch, usually under a fluffy blanket and read.
I’m smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it. I want you to have that feeling too!
Books have such power to help build connections, improve communication, begin conversations you might not have ever had, evoke a variety of emotions, teach you new things, etc…
I could go on and on about all the benefits of books, especially early literacy. But for now, just know it is a powerful tool to help you connect with your child of any age.
Sensory play is another passion of ours. My daughter and I love to explore all sorts of fun sensory materials, such as, water, goop, playdough, rice, slime, colored pasta, shaving cream, sticky paper, etc… The list can probably go on forever. Goop is my favorite believe it or not! Its messy but oh so relaxing at the same time.
But How Do You DO Bookish Play?
So, imagine we’ve just read a great children’s book about unicorns. That is not random, she is very much into unicorns right now, lol. We decide to whip up a batch of unicorn goop. Together we gather the materials, set up wherever we’re gonna do this and begin.
Connecting through bookish play is laid back. It is being present in the moment, not worrying about the mess or what else is going on. It is a device free time. A time to notice how big their hands have gotten since the last time you did this or how they didn’t need any help opening the box of cornstarch.
Connecting through bookish play is relishing in their smile and the laughter that comes from this moment.
The colors in the goop begin to swirl together and she excitedly begins to tell a story of her own that she is making up right now before your eyes. She’s asking if you believe in unicorns too? She’s looking up at you and you are connecting through play.
You are giving your child the gift of your presence; telling them through bookish play that they matter to you, that you can take time out of your day for them, that they are loved. You are letting them know through bookish play that you will always be there for them.
“Children spell love… T-I-M-E.” – Dr. A. Witham
Tips for Success in Connecting through Bookish Play
- Choose something you both enjoy.
- Set clear boundaries, so that it is clear what is okay and not okay to do during the activity.
- Be open to trying new things together.
- Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought. Your reaction is key. If you get angry or upset when things don’t work out and quit, that is what you are teaching your child to do when things don’t go as planned for them.
- Keep it short and sweet (especially in the beginning) and always try and end on a positive note. I recommend you initiate cleaning up before it turns into a disaster or the mess goes past the boundaries you’ve set. In other words, end it while you are both still enjoying it 🙂
Common Questions/FAQ about Connecting through Bookish Play
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What if I love to do something but don’t enjoy it with my child?
That is okay. Being honest with yourself and accepting your feelings is the most important step in connecting through bookish play. Try something else. You will definitely find what works for you.
My child doesn’t sit for a story and/or keeps closing the book, now what?
That is okay. We all have expectations for what storytime “should” look like. But in reality some kids are not going to sit still for a story. Just keep reading. If they are trying to close the book don’t assume this means they don’t like the book or don’t wanna read. Redirect their hands off the book and keep reading.
What if I don’t have that book or the materials?
I highly recommend borrowing the books, I suggest from your local library. I don’t know if this feature is available where you live but I can go online (through the libraries online system), search for books, and “order” them to be picked up at my local library. Its amazing.
I try my best to choose inexpensive everyday materials that you can either find in your home already or buy in a dollar store. However, if you’re looking for convenience you can click on my affiliate links and purchase the items from Amazon to be shipped to you.
What is Sensory play?
In short, it is playing with materials that activate the senses to help our brain make connections.
Is my child too young to do art? Or too old for sensory play?
Age is only a number. I love art, sensory and “children’s” books. I hope that it becomes apparent through reading my blog posts, that I don’t believe in categorizing an activity by age. All children and their older person are free to have fun doing any activity I post.
Of course, use your discretion when deciding if they are ready to come into contact with the materials. Whenever possible I will try my best to suggest substitute materials.
How are we connecting if my child is focused on the activity?
Connecting through bookish play means you are playing a supportive role. It is okay if they are focused on the activity, just being there, ready and willing to engage if they want to is enough.
Is this supposed to be fun?
Yes, of course! But remember, its a journey. You are discovering what works for you and your child. This can take time and patience. How you respond to the bumps in the road is an example for your child. So shout out an excited “WHEEEEE!” and enjoy the ride, together 🙂
“There are no mistakes in life, just learning opportunities.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Connecting through Bookish Play…
YOU GOT THIS!
You can start right now. By reading this blog and taking this first step, you are already making a change to help your child & yourself!
Where will you start your journey? Here’s our Most Popular Bookish Play…