The Role of The Parent in Open-Ended Play

the role of the parent in open-ended play

Okay, you’ve purchased the open-ended toys after all the rage. Now what?

I am a firm believer that knowing how to guide your child through open-ended play is even more important than simply purchasing open-ended toys. 

Something I’ve learnt in my journey with my kids is:

when it comes to open ended play, some guidance from the parents is necessary; especially if open ended play is newly introduced to your child at the initial stages. Here are a few tips: 

Sit with them and play with them.

Be involved, rather than just being on your phone while they play in your presence. Tell stories with the toys,  and then ask some open-ended questions. They will get the opportunity to watch you and imitate what you’re doing. I know some parents simply do not enjoy playing with their kids. I know it’s not always fun. And I am not asking you to ALWAYS play with them. But if you do this in the initial stages of introducing open-ended play to them, next thing you know, their imagination takes over!Once they get a hang of it, you’ll b amazed how often you’d like to witness what they can come up with. The one thing  I wouldn’t recommend is instructing them on how to play with the toys. What is key here is a little guidance.

Allow them to be bored:

Don’t always be so eager to occupy your kids. Boredom is a gift to kids. It is in those times that they brains get to be stimulated.  ‘We’ve become an instant gratification society, and children almost start to panic if they don’t have anything to do,’ says Melissa Bernstein, a mother of six and co-founder of Melissa & Doug. This is why I’m a firm believer in quiet time. ‘Technology, consumerism and the huge rise of extracurricular activities for kids have created a world where children lead highly structured lives, with little time to just ‘be.’’ It’s when they feel they have nothing to do, that they are compelled to find something to do. So let them be bored.

Have a Designated Playspace:

I can’t stress enough, the importance of having a designated play space for your child. It doesn’t have to be a fancy room. It can be a little nook in your home. Just a place where they know that their play items are at their disposal, so they can go there and have some ‘me time’. It does wonders. My kids always know to go to the play area. That’s where they can make all the mess, sing all the songs  and have some fun! I love it for them, and I love it so much for me! I look forward to tidying it up for them just so they can have some fun. I recently got the IKEA 8 cube shelf to help tidy up the space, AND encourage them to tidy up after themselves also. 

Dear parents/caregivers, It’s so important that we get play right. For the sake of the child, the family, and even the economy at large.Children who are encouraged to play well, grow up to be problem-solvers, initiators and world changers. I live with a Husband who was raised the open-ended way, and proves to me every single day, that we are doing the right thing by investing and thinking through what play items we purchase for our kids.  He is a problem solver through and through. I hope this encourages you. 🙂

In Love and Health,


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