How to keep young children engaged in play

Learn about: How to keep young children engaged in play from Maria Elena Cruz,...
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How to keep young children engaged in play

In order to keep young children fully engaged in activities for long periods of time, I think that it is really important for you to sit down and play with them and show them how to work with their toys. For me, I have a four and five year old. So a lot of things are new for them. When they are looking at a truck or they are looking at books, you have to show them, read to them, spend time showing them how to make a picnic, or pulling out the paints and actually showing them how to work with the paintbrush and dip it in the water. And just taking them through the process. And when you do that consistently, I think for a while. I mean not just doing it once but doing it as often as possible. Then they are worked into a routine where they can actually get together and know how to process and be creative during their time together. I know my kids have had picnics together. My daughter paints. She can paint for about an hour. And look at what they are interested in, too. You have to know what is your kid interested in and it takes some time playing with them to see what they are excited about. And then, kind of wrap the activity or pull out those things that interest them specifically. That forces them into creativity. Not TV, not video games, but something that has them engage with one another or if they are not a pair, something that they are not excited about that they can really tune into.

Learn about: How to keep young children engaged in play from Maria Elena Cruz,...


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Maria Elena Cruz

Mom & Art Curator

Maria Elena Cruz is an active artist and curator, and the mother of two children, aged five and seven. She has taught art for 15 years, and believes that art can help children’s development and ease them through difficult times of transition – something she has experience with firsthand. During the day she teaches at Optimist High and in the evening she teaches watercolor, mixed media art, and figure drawing at UCLA. Maria also directs a project called, “The Pulse,” where she invites the community to paint to the rhythm of drums. Maria also recently began a nonprofit, Dial Art that serves communities in multiple ways through art. Her children are happily involved in most of her art programs. Her son, Clarence, age seven, has been learning to play the trumpet for two years and is involved with the science academy. Her daughter, Amara, age five, is involved with gymnastics and the science academy.

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