Work and Play: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

We are jumping back into our series on the eight facets of a healthy family culture.  These facets, along with the inner development of the parent and a spiritual/religious life, really form a backbone and foundation for parenting and for homeschooling.  We have peeked at rhythm and sleep/rest and today we are ready to peek at the polar opposite of sleep/rest in work and play.

Work! —  Many of you who have been reading this blog for quite some time know how frequently I have discussed the need for children to work around the home.  Ideally, this starts with the child of the ages birth through age seven  imitating YOUR work in the home and weaving in and out of that work to graduating to assigned responsibility within the home.  I have poised the question on this blog in the past about “if your child wasn’t home, what work would not be getting done?”

In one of the rhythm posts in this series we also talked about how inevitably homeschool burnout can be tied to feeling overwhelmed by our homes!  Mother is not there to be a servant to all on top of homeschooling; the whole family lives in the house and therefore the whole family helps nurture the home. Working as a family in the home is every as bit as valuable as team sports in learning how to work together as a team.

Play —  Play is the foundation and bedrock of the Early Years, ages birth through seven, and is also the heart of middle childhood in the grades, ages seven to fourteen.

The lack of self –directed play amongst children today is startling, as is the inability of many children to initiate and play simple games in a group of children.  I feel this phenomenon, in part, can be traced to the advent of having to arrange “play-dates” for children to play, along with the creeping of classes and lessons for the ever-younger ages.  I think too, with the lack of very large families and extended family around, there is less of an opportunity at home and in the neighborhood to even learn how to play by watching older siblings or cousins at play.

It is daunting, isn’t it? Yet, the primary task of us as parents and educators for our children is to get our children in their bodies and play is the number one way to do this!  Please do get your children outside in nature, let them be bored and discover genius in their boredom, let them dream and discover waiting.  I love this quote from Kim John Payne’s book, “Simplicity Parenting”:

“Here is the world!” we seem to offer as we drive our children from one activity to the next.  Rather than creating excitement, overloading a child’s schedule creates high expectations.  “What’s the next great thing” they ask in return.  If we pull back on scheduling, a child can see something coming up; they can literally “look forward” to it.  This allows anticipating to build.  And anticipation is more than a simple pleasure.  It is identity building.”

“Simplicity Parenting” has a number of good suggestions for dealing with outside activities, including using consecutive quiet  and “ordinary” days to balance out busy days, creating “Sabbath” moments by day and by week, scheduling lighter and heavier seasons throughout the year. I think any step  a family can take toward reducing outside pressure for children under the age of 12 is really positive, especially for  younger children who are in school and who are gone from their homes all day long.  A balance to outside activities so free play, dreaming, waiting and anticipation can begin is so vital.

Here are a few oldie but goodie posts on the specifics of fostering play for the Early Years group:

At this time of year, many homeschooling families are starting to think about and plan for the next school year already….let your evaluation of outside activities and the amount of chores, work, responsibility and time to play be part of this evaluation.  I don’t know about you, but I am feeling inspired to make some changes!

Much love and many blessings,

7 thoughts on “Work and Play: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

  1. I have found that the older the children get the more complicated it gets with finding time for everything because the needs of the children change (and also their interests). Also, each child becomes more independent and develops friendships and interests that are different from everybody else in the family. But on the other hand, the older ones can also take on more responsibilities for jobs I used to do. That is very helpful and the burden of a smoothly running household doesn’t rest on me alone anymore. Happy thinking and planning to you!

  2. It’s so sad that this generation of chidlren is missing out on the value of free play. My oldest has at various times had friends over to play that go to “away from home” school and are involved in a lot of classes but eventually the friendships fizzled out because the other children just didn’t know how to play. They had no idea what to do! Even when I set them up with blank paper and crayons one little girl only wanted to make herself a colouring page to colour in. My daughter had no idea what was going on! We live in a neighbourhood where every house has children, a big yard, trees and a playstructure and yet there are never any children playing even on the weekends and during the summer. I feel so lucky that one of the great advantages of homeschooling is that my children have so much time to play indoor and out and that with four little ones they always have some to play with. It’s amazing the games they come up with!

  3. Any ideas on how to help foster play in an only child? He’s currently 18 months, but I’m also looking for ideas I can implement as he gets older. We don’t have any family close (2000+ miles away although we do get fairly frequent visits.) Both his father and I do get down on the floor and play. We get outside on an almost daily basis (and despite living in a “family” neighborhood see very few other children out at the playgrounds.) The couple prearranged “playdates” in our area I’ve tried to attend, there hasn’t been anyone else there. I keep reading how “playdates” for very young children are more for the parent – I’m not looking for a playdate for me. When do I really need to be trying to get him involved with other children? Three? Four? Now? My son is very reserved around people he doesn’t know and he doesn’t get much outside interaction with others (besides smiling at the grocery checkout lady.) He’s very insulated within our little three person family and the occasional grandparent visit. Is this okay for now? I’m very content to be a homebody with very few social engagements, but I don’t want my introverted tendencies to be detrimental for my son’s development.

    • Katelyn,
      Please do check out the posts mentioned in this post regarding fostering play and outside play…Then, search for “Social Experiences for the Four Year Old” on this blog, they generated a lot of response on this topic of playdates, what children need socially outside the home. I think eighteen months is tiny and not much need for anything at this point,but I really do understand your questions. Four and a half used to be the typical age that the Waldorf Kindergarten really started some time ago, and I still think that age is good for fostering more connection…but I have to say playdates and playmates is different than community. To me, community should be there from the beginning…do you attend a place of worship? do you have a group of people or neighbors you meet with regularly? Some sort of community? I think as you start to investigate ways to bring community into your own lives, then you can go from there. My favorite places to garner community is through a place of worship, but also through organizations such as La Leche League and Attachment Parenting, but you may find other arenas and avenues…
      Love to you, thank you for being here in this space,

  4. Hi – This is not necessarily related to this post, but I just wanted to say thank you for being such a great resource. I just spent a lot of time looking at your gentle discipline posts and they are so helpful.

    • Mel,
      I am so glad; gentle discipline is really one of my things to write about and talk about…
      Glad you are here!
      Many blessings,

  5. Pingback: Overscheduled Children: How Much Is Too Much? | Those Young Moms

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