I consider myself a pretty strict parent and I pride myself that (so far), my kids are well behaved, happy and are able to entertain themselves pretty well. Sure we all have hard days but in general I think we’re doing okay. We don’t do a lot of TV or any video games, we don’t let them play on the iPad (unless it’s earned), they don’t eat a lot of sugar or junk food but one of the things I’m picky about is play. The biggest things I encourage my kids to do is go outside. I don’t care what you do outside but go outside to play everyday. Play benefits all areas of a child’s development. One important aspect of this time is unstructured play, also called free play. That boredom that’s involved in free play turns their imagination on and allows them to create games and rules and consequences.
As an Orange County Children’s Photographer, those are the moments I want to capture. When kids are free to play how they like, they are happiest and most relaxed. Goodbye meltdowns and fake smiles.
Unstructured play allows children the freedom to explore, create and discover without predetermined rules or guidelines. It’s been shown to foster cognitive development while boosting physical development and social and emotional development. It specifically helps creativity and imagination, problem-solving abilities and social skills.
Creativity and imagination: Because there are no fixed rules to follow, children can make their own games and guidelines. This opportunity to create and use imagination is important to cognitive development.
Problem-solving abilities: Children work together during unstructured play to solve problems, like who takes the first turn in a game and establishing other rules of play. While activities should be supervised, allow children time to work together on problems before helping resolve a conflict or question.
Social skills: Unstructured play encourages social skills and teamwork. Children take turns, learn to listen and share, develop imaginary scenarios and make decisions together. Because they are the ones driving play, they have the chance to learn on their own among friends.
Playgrounds and outdoor spaces are ideal for free play because there are endless opportunities to explore and interact with the world. Children can race through a play structure, run in open spaces and create their own games based on what’s available. Children do not need large open spaces for creative play – often a quiet corner or under the kitchen table are just as fun.
So next time you’re doing photos and your little one is NOT HAVING IT! Try letting them be, just give them a toy and let them relax. They can feel the pressure of photoshoots just like we can but they don’t know how to handle it like we do so they meltdown. Your photographer should respect that and know how to capture these moments without intruding on your child’s space. After a 5-10 minute break, maybe a snack and a drink I bet your babe will be back in action.
Orange County Children’s Photographer
Poppy Lea Photography is a motherhood photographer in Orange County who specializes in maternity, newborn, baby, motherhood sessions and family photography in the Orange County area, including San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Rancho Mission Viejo and Costa Mesa.
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