Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

Dara Johnston

Parents As Teachers Coordinator

As the coordinator for the Parent Education Network’s Parents as Teachers Program I can personally attest to the fact that playing (almost any type of play) is vital for children. Playing can open up a child’s creativity, help them come into their own with various motor skills, enable them to have the beginning blocks of intellectual development and can also assist with language skills. There are numerous ways in which to play with your child – everything from outdoor activities to structured play- all types foster a different growth mechanism within your child. Don’t think there is enough time to have guided play with your child in between daily chores and activities?

Then try this example;

Cleaning with Music- while you are completing your chores around the house blast your favorite music and encourage dancing with your child in tow, singing into the remote control is optional of course. Who knows it may even become natural to dust the floor by donning socks and dancing your heart out to American Idol runners up. Shhh! I won’t judge!

Its ideas like these that Parent Educators bring to the doorsteps of Parents as Teachers families across Wyoming every day.  They add just a bit of background to help parents understand why each activity is important. For example did you know that block-playing is linked to higher math scores? 


With the Assistance of Pat Simpson – PAT National Center

Love of Music


Comments on: "Play Time is Homework!" (12)

  1. Crissy said:

    I have to say that we are players in our house and always have been. I always try to make cleaning activities a fun “play” thing or it won’t get done. Music is a wonderful thing in our house we listen all the time and dance around and act crazy on a regular basis but i think so many parents forget that they are teaching their kids by doing the simple things of listening to music dancing and cleaning. Simple play activities will teach kids some very valuable lessons in life.

  2. Blanca Moye said:


  3. Lisa, you can find the research on the connections of block play and intellectual development in the following places:

    Hirsh, E., (Ed.). 1984. The Block Book. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.


    Reifel, S. (November, 1984). Block Construction, Young Children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

  4. All of you had such great things to say you left nothing for me, not. I have always incorporated sensory integration with play to teach children that they can calm themselves and have fun also, and its a life long lesson.

  5. Marcy said:

    Fabulous thoughts Dara!!! My daughter is hugely (a word??) into imaginary play and loves to play house. She actually begs me to let her do the dusting and vacuuming because it is part of her make-believe “house”, not to mention her real one!!!! Who am I to limit her creativity?? and I grt help with the household tasks as an added bonus!! 🙂

  6. Michele said:

    This was an excellent posting. I think sometimes as parents we don’t realize that it is very easy to include our children in the things we are doing. For example I started having my 5 yr old put his own clothes away and he loves it. It’s a sense of accomplishment for him and hasn’t figured it out yet that it’s a chore! Great ideas Dara!!!

  7. Dara,
    That was a great posting! That’s why I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as ‘quality’ time, there’s just time and should you choose to use it ‘playing’ aka ‘educating’ the kids, then you chose wisely. I remember incubating chicken eggs w/ the girls and how magical that was for them! I needed to do it for chickens, they thought it was fabulous! They helped me add in the correct amount of water and they were ConstantlY checking the temperature! I remember telling them I’d pay 1.00 for every coffee can of glass and metal they picked up all over the farm and they almost broke the bank! We’d have endless conversations about how this was a piece of an old telephone insulator and that was a nail used to shoe a horse. I remember telling them to never pick up a piece of lumber by flipping it away from you, but flip it towards you so the lumber was still in the way in case there was a vermit under there. That took a couple of lessons until there actually were vermin. But they, to this day, do not flip anything away from themselves. Cooking, measuring………the very best times ever. And it was just time. Excellent post – and time goes by so fast. *Swiping a tear.*

  8. Dara! Great thoughts! One of my favorite things about being a Parent Educator is sharing these kind of ideas with my families!

  9. Samantha said:

    This reminds me of a conversation that I had with a parent. I had recently conducted a group meeting about teaching babies and children sign language. This particular parent asked me whether or not a program that teaches babies to read was something she should be using. (Yes—babies!) She went into great detail about how babies were shown flash cards with words on them and then demonstrated in some way what that word represented. Like many who saw this commercial she was amazed and wondered if in some way she was lacking as a parent if she didn’t start teaching her baby academically now. Needless to say I reassured her that by no means would she be missing the boat if she simply gave her daughter many opportunities to play.

    Play is vital to childhood; but in these days of No Child Left Behind, all too often it’s the play—and therefore aspects of a child’s development that get left behind. Play enhances all areas of a child’s development: socially, emotionally, motor, language and intellectually. For example, block play provides opportunity for problem solving (intellectual), cooperation (social / emotional), hand control (motor) and a chance to use words to represent objects, people and events (language). All from one simple yet powerful play experience. You can’t get that from flash cards!

  10. LiEnisa said: is an amazing website filled with articles based on research in early learning and development. On February 19th they had an article about the fact that more playtime and less “work time” in preschool better prepares children for kindergarten. Most of us know that play is a child’s work but others get caught up in how much a child knows academically; ABC’s, colors, letters, shapes, basic math,etc. These are great skilss for preschoolers top acquire but what about cooperative play, taking turns, waiting in lines, and being patient whle the teacher assists another student? THOSE are the truly vital Kindergarten readiness skills that will lead children to academic success! And if they learn how to write their name as well, BONUS!

  11. Hello Dara,
    Can you tell me where I can read the research or find out more about block play and math scores for preschoolers? Thanks!

  12. Tammy said:

    Great Ideas! Summer Fun Tidbit, have the children collect rocks and then paint them for your flower beds.
    Need a Fire Pit, help child/children arrange cinderblocks and big rocks, then of course decorate the rocks and blocks. Upon completion make smores with your lovely Fire Pit.

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