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Do your kids have fun playing at home indoors? Tips from a Menlo Park Dad

by Mike Lanza on December 22, 2012

My three boys are never bored playing at home. Really. I’m serious.

Despite the fact that they play a lot less in our wonderful front and back yards in these cold and dark months, my boys (8, 5, and 3) have been playing like mad at home.

In fact, when we’re out, they often plead loudly to go home. When they get here, they spring into action, climbing, building, hiding, riding their plasma cars, playing board games, and playing cards. They make up imaginary worlds and play games with rules they improvise.

Why are they so stimulated at home? Some of the credit goes to factors that my wife and I have intentionally chosen to create a stimulating home environment, but other factors are a result of plain luck:

No passive screen watching: My boys hardly ever sit in front of a screen, and when they do – maybe an hour of a video on some nights – I control the remote, and I click pause every minute or so to discuss something. So, even when they watch TV, they do it in a very active way.

Lots of materials for big, physical play: My boys have lots of shelves to crawl around on in our garage, rafters in our basement to climb into, lots of cushions and blankets to make forts with, and lots of cardboard boxes to cut up, hide in, or slide on. We didn’t provide this stuff intentionally to give our kids play opportunities, so I guess we just lucked out. We’re eyeing a new couch now that we do think would be great fort-building.

A messy house where kids rule: Do you let your kids climb pretty much all over your house? Do you let them ride on little cars on your hardwood floors? Can they barrel down stairs in a box, then hit the railing really hard? My wife and I let our kids do all these things and more because our priority is letting them have fun. We don’t have any nice furniture or fragile objects.

Three kids, pretty close in age: I don’t know what the optimal number of kids is before they start fighting and splitting off into cliques, but I can tell you that our three boys play together very well. Yes, they sometimes fight and get hurt, but on the whole, playing together is a great experience for them.

I’m extremely happy that my boys are stimulated and active pretty much all the time they’re at home. As I said above, part of the credit for this is pure luck, but I’ll take it. In any event, it’s clear to me that their home life is contributing significantly to their intellectual, social, and emotional development.

In fact, I’d say it’s difficult to find a preschool that provides a more stimulating experience for my younger kids than my home provides.How about your kids? Are they stimulated at home? Are they learning a lot? Are they having a lot of fun?

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