Are children playing or working? And what to do about it.

are children playing or working? and what to do about it.

Your home has gone quiet, almost suspiciously so. You turn around to see your child immersed in creation.

Maybe they’re:⁠

⭐ Building a gravity-defying tower.⁠

⭐ Painting an abstract picture of a flower.⁠

⭐ Meticulously layering beads onto a piece of yarn.⁠

The look on their face is one of concentration:⁠

🤨 Their brow is furrowed.⁠

🤔 Their head tilts to the side as they think.⁠

😕 Their lips are pursed or their tongue is poking out just a bit.⁠

🧐 The occasional “hmmm” can be heard.⁠

Clearly, they’re engaged, focused, determined, and motivated.

But would you describe this moment of intense concentration as playing or working?

Is there a difference between the two in this instance?

Where do you draw the line between work and play?⁠

When you see your child hard at play/work here are some things you can do:

⚡️ Give them room to create, explore, focus.

⚡️ Don’t worry if they’re not smiling.

⚡️ Try not to interrupt them for discussion (or a smiling photo).

⚡️ ⚡️ Later, when they’re done play/working, ask them to tell you about their experience, or the ideas they were exploring. They may have something to say, they may not.

Two more perspectives:

On Instagram, My friend, @mugshots shared a meaningful insight from her perspective as a museum educator:

“At the Museum we have so many photos of kids in classes in the studio and unless we ask them to stop and look up at the camera and flash a smile, their faces are pretty much always in major concentration mode. We often get pushback from the Marketing folks, don’t you have any pics of them smiling while they work? And I say, ‘hmmm.. and maybe whistling too? No. This is what you want. This is the real story of art education.’”

And artist Jennifer Wilkin Penick added a third word, EFFORT, to the equation:

“The creative process can be a mix of creating and problem-solving. While both are (should be) ENJOYABLE, they also involve … maybe not work precisely, but EFFORT.”

Join the conversation on our Instagram page.

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