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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions


We have had several of our readers express concern about the skepticism of their significant other when it comes to PAHM play.  We hope this explanation helps.

Play at Home Mom is ultimately about connecting with our children through play – ENJOYING our children.  The things we teach them through open-ended, child-guided play reaches far beyond colors, shapes, letters, and numbers.  Dare I say it???  For SOME (most) men, these things are typically off of their radar (which is why they don't always "get it").  Child-focused research on learning, creativity, and motivation supports the notion that “traditional toys” (the ones that “DO” a lot) limit creativity, decrease attention span, and lower motivation to learn.  Children need open ended toys to encourage creativity, critical thinking and expression of the child’s thoughts, needs, and feelings: anger, fear, sadness, joy, surprise, disgust.  This type of emotional intelligence is typically lost on men (again – SOME men….maybe MOST men).  Emotional intelligence is probably the most important thing we can model and teach our children.  It gives them tools they will need to regulate their emotions, empathize with others, think, reason, create, overcome obstacles in life, and rise above in the face of difficulties.  When we support our children’s creative processes by providing sensory opportunities and open-ended play (with no right or wrong way of doing things), we give them a safe environment to make mistakes, receive empathy, and ultimately develop their emotional intelligence.  During these times we also foster self-worth, confidence, and independence.  This kind of play strengthens a child’s sense-of-self as well as the parent-child connection. 

Children learn about their world through their senses.  Sensory activities provide children with another meaningful avenue for learning. A sensory table or a sensory tub full of various sensory materials is a worthwhile investment for hours of learning, exploring, and fun. Because children learn best by having "hands on" experiences with materials, sensory experiences are vital to young children's learning.

How do you keep your children from putting things in their mouth??
Instead of just not doing activities, we see everything as an opportunity to guide our children to more appropriate, functional play.   We use phrases like, “that stays out of your mouth” and then we tell them and model all of the things they CAN do with the materials.  When our children were younger, we didn’t worry about some things going in the mouth - a little paint, a little shaving cream, some play doh, etc. We understand choking hazards are a different story, though.   Children need constant reminders - "it stays out of your mouth", an explanation - "it’s not safe to put it in your mouth because you may choke on it", and continuous reminders and modeling of things they  CAN do with it - "you may swish your feet in it, scoop it, pour it, stir it, drive cars in it, bury your toes in it", etc. (With this gentle guidance during play you will find that one day the child doesn't need it anymore - and probably sooner than later).

If play turns into a power struggle and only frustrates the child when you try to guide them, its ok to let them know that its all done - for their safety - and that you can try again later.....and make sure you try again later so they have several opportunities to learn.  Also make sure you give them a warning before just taking something away – “if you chose to put the gems in your mouth, you chose for them to be all done”.  Remember, they are little and still developing impulse control - so sometimes that desire to put things in their mouth is way stronger than your request not to.

( I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes if you just let them get it out of their system by "allowing" it for a second - ask them to please spit it out - and then explain why it stays out of the mouth - they are more likely to cooperate).

How do you have everything out and in glass containers without things getting broken or destroyed?
 We know that seeing some of our “Environment” pictures can be overwhelming and seem completely undoable.  It takes time, effort, TRUST, and patience to have everything accessible to the child, but its soooooooo worth it in the long run.  Not only is it empowering to the child, but it also strengthens the parent/child relationship because in essence we are telling them – “you are capable”, “I trust you” (that must feel so good to them).  We draw inspiration from the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, which is all about inspiring environments and having materials readily available to the child.  Our play rooms have been built brick by brick, per say.  Whenever we introduce a new element or material, we explore it, talk about it, and learn about its function and how to handle it together.  We have taught our children from a very young age how to handle things with care and how to respect their environment.  Accidents are just learning opportunities and messes are not typically an issue because our children have been gently guided to use the materials in functional ways.  We don’t shy away from dumping and pouring (messes), we just give them appropriate outlets to do so.  We are admittedly present with our children most of the day – and there was lots of supervision in the playrooms when they were younger.  Give it a go, take baby steps, and you will see amazing things happen!


How are you so organized?
Most of us are organized by nature – some more than others.  Once you start organizing and everything has a place, setting up and cleaning up becomes much easier.  In addition, order and organization is beneficial to children – chaos and mess = disorganized minds.  Clutter and lack of order can be overwhelming and cause anxiety in some children.  Make it easy for your children to help clean up – baskets/containers with pictures or labels encourages independence.  Its all about finding an organized system that works for you and your children.

What is toy X and where can I buy it?
All of our toys and materials can be found here:

What can I do with my infant.....or my 5 year old?
Find inspiration for things to do with infants here and specific activities hereWe feel that with the right supervision and guidance, most of the activities on our blog can be done with infants.  What a great time to start allowing them to play and lead with some gentle guidance.

Everything on our blog is suitable for a 5 year old - even a 9 or 10 year old.  Obviously, the level of play is more advanced and you can throw in some academics as well.  For example, practice spelling words in shaving cream.  

What are Water Beads and are they safe?
Water beads are water retaining polymers and are made of the same material as contact lenses.  They are non-toxic but may pose a choking hazard.  You can buy them on Ebay, at Walmart, Michaels, most craft stores, and several other places.  (They can be found in the floral section - near the vases).  WARNING – The red water beads stain.

What is a light panel?  Where do I get one?  How do I make one?
A light panel is an illuminated board or table.  It has tons and tons of uses and brings an added dimension to play – LIGHT!  You can buy one here or make your own as seen here.  In addition, several of our readers have made their own and posted pics on our page – browse the album for ideas.

What is a Sensory Table/Bin?
Sensory activities provide children with another meaningful avenue for learning. A sensory table or a sensory tub full of various sensory materials is a worthwhile investment for hours of learning, exploring, and fun. Because children learn best by having "hands on" experiences with materials, sensory experiences are vital to young children's learning.  

A sensory experience does NOT have to be in/on a table by any means. Any container, bowl, box, etc. will work.  We have store bought tables and DIY tables.  We also use a plastic storage tub often for these play experiences. 

If you check out our Sensory Bin photo album on Facebook you will see that sensory play is not just limited to a sensory table.

What is Child-Guided Play and How Do I Implement It?
Child-guided play is play that is initiated and stylized by the child. When we are fully present with our children during play, we foster self-worth, confidence, and independence (amongst other things).  Being fully present does wonders for the parent-child connection.  Sometimes its hard to let go of our adult expectation/thoughts/lives....so here are a few reminders.
  • Get down on your child's level
  • Observe to see where your child it taking his/her play
  • Respond when your child interacts with you (verbal and non-verbal interactions)
  • Join in, but don't take over
  • Narrate or track the child's play from time to time - "Oh, you are scooping the beans".."You are pouring the beans"...etc (this lets them know you are fully present and it makes them feel valued and confident in their play - not to mention its great for language development with the little ones.)
  • Repeat what the child says from time to time - "I poured the beans"/"Yes, you did pour the beans."
  • Instead of "Good job" try using phrases like,  "You sure do know how to scoop and pour." or "Look at the amazing tower you built." ( I also like "You must be so proud of yourself" in place of "Im so proud of you".)
  • Allow them to play with things any way they want to (safely) - with no "right" or "wrong" way.

What is a typical day like for you?
There are a few things you have to remember - I am a PAHM and I only have ONE child - 2yr old son.  Our days vary - trips to the grocery store, trips to the zoo or playground or park.  Yes, I Do clean.  I usually throw cleaning in when my son is napping or after he goes to bed.....or either he cleans with me if he wants to (he loves to spray the window cleaner, he loves to vacuum, he loves to dust, he loves to mop, he loves to help me load the washer/dryer).  I have to admit, if anything suffers around here - its meals.  This does not mean we eat fast food or junk (we dont), but fancy, well-planned meals only happen from time to time - we do a lot of grilling here  (chicken and veggies - yum)..  My son likes to help me cook, too....if he isn't helping, he plays alone or with his Daddy.  ( I use nap time to prep for lunch and dinner) Anyway - here is what my day usually looks like....

  • 6:00 - wake up (press snooze a few times, so really 6:20-ish  LOL)
  • 6:30 - My son typically wakes up at this time, but he likes to chill in his bed - he usually rolls out any time between 6:30/7:00
  • 7:00 - Starbucks run - Mommy needs a CHAI
  • 7:10-8:00 - Child guided play (i.e. - This means we do whatever he wants to do)
  • 8:00 - make breakfast (he usually plays alone when I get breakfast ready)....eat
  • 9:00 - Child guided Play  (If I have something planned, we might do it at this time - he typically helps me set up - its part of the PROCESS.  Sometimes we go for a walk or go to a playground)
  • 10:00 - snack
  • 11:30-1:00 - nap  (nap time varies because sometimes he is asking to go down at 10:30....so he naps anywhere from 10:30 to 11:30 every day)
  • 1:30 - lunch (that he never eats until 3:00 - I just save it for him if he is not interested at that time - children's eating schedules are typically NOT the same as an adult's schedule)
  • 2:00-5:00 - Child guided play
  • 5:00 - dinner prep....then we eat
  • 6:00 - Child guided play
  • 6:30 - bath
  • 7:00 - books and bed  (he is typically in bed by 7:30 every night)

- AK

For RL's routine click HERE

Im in Australia, can you recommend some sites that sell the products from your page?
Here is a NOTE.....THE AUSSIE NOTE.  Check out the comments for more info.

    ***This post is a work in progress....more to come.  


    1. This is a great round up. Now you have a place to send people, I notice you gals get asked the same questions all the time. Thank you so much for existing here on the internet!

    2. The link for things to do with an infant is broken :(

    3. I would love to know/see where you store the stuff you are not using. That is really hard for me. I have the space just no plan! Thanks for all you do.

      see what we are up to at www.everydayonpurpose.blogspot.com

    4. Hi there! The link to buy a light table is not working? Where would you suggest getting one? I searched on Amazon and they are in the $200-300 range. Is that what you are using? Thanks so much!


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