Stealthy Teachers Play Alone…

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We’ve all been there- You have the most awesome toy/game/project/activity.  You are sooo excited to share it with your kiddo because you are sure he’ll love it.  So you get it all set up and make sure everything is perfect and then…

NOTHING.

Your kid wants nothing to do with it.  You try to show him how fun it will be.  NOPE.  You try explaining how it works.  NO WAY.  You go for bribery, “Just try it, you’ll like it!  Please?? I’ll give you a cookie…” NOT GONNA HAPPEN LADY. And then you give up and put your super awesome toy/game/project/activity away.  Oh well, maybe next time.

STOP!!

This is where you go into stealth mode.  When you see your kid isn’t gonna have it, stop trying.  Just smile your sweetest smile and say, “Ok, you don’t have to.  I’ll play by myself.”  And then do it.

Melissa and Doug self-correcting letter puzzle
If you want them to have fun, show them how fun it can be!

Sit down and play that game and have a great time.  Go through each step and give a running commentary on everything you do.  Make it nice and clear and loud and enthusiastic.  “Letter B.  Buh.  Butterfly.” “Letter C.  Kuh.  Cat.”  “Oooh, I know this one! Letter D! Duh Duh, for dinosaur and dog and dinner.  I like this game!”  Make sure you make it look really fun, but don’t say anything to your kid.  Don’t invite him again, don’t tell him you’re having fun.  Basically just ignore him, and play.

*Disclaimer- This method only works if your kid is within earshot.  If they go upstairs or out for a bike ride,  then you’re just a silly grown up playing a kid’s game alone.

So what next and why bother?

For the majority of young children, all they need is to see someone else playing and having fun, and they will be totally compelled to join in.  If you’ve ever watched a bunch of kids fight over one broken toy and ignore a whole room full of fun stuff, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Frog number matching.
Whatever the game, don’t be afraid to play alone.

At this point, if your kiddo comes over and asks to play, let him!  We call this a victory!  If he runs over and tries to stop you from playing or take the game from you, simply say “No thanks.  I’m using this.” You can either let him sit and watch you for a while, or offer to let him play.  Chances are, he will.  🙂

Ok- So what if my kid doesn’t take the bait?  What if he sits on the floor next to me the whole time and plays with his trucks?!

Well my friend, that’s what we call a stealthy victory!  While that little guy sat puttering away, seemingly ignoring you, his great big toddler ears heard every word you said.  The same magical powers that allow him to hear you say “ice cream” from three blocks away just heard every letter, word, and sound in your game.  He may not have been at the table choosing cards, but he did get some great exposure.  Exposure builds familiarity, and familiarity leads to learning.  Don’t be surprised if the next time you pull out that game he already knows how to play!

Have you had a stealthy victory?  Share it with us!

Happy Learning!

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