Meg’s Story

A few years ago, a little pink bundle arrived squirming and screaming into my world – and for the first few hours of her life my husband, Rob just kept saying, “Can you believe we made something so perfect?” And it’s so true, we did not have to decide where her eyebrows should go, what colour her hair should be, whether she gets his legs or mine (his, thank goodness! No girl likes a cankle!). But now she has arrived, without much input from us, what do we do with her? Yes, of course we fed her, cleaned her, dressed her, and put her to sleep (we’re not complete twits) but what about all the hours she is awake?!?! You may be surprised (or perhaps you won’t) that even as an Occupational Therapist the idea of engaging and stimulating my child correctly was terrifying: how much, how often, what should I do, what shouldn’t I do, what about overstimulation, what are the long-term consequences etc. etc. etc.!!!! All on top of the other questions plaguing new moms like is her poo supposed to be that colour? I was fortunate to have an incredible group of girlfriends (you know who you are) who were at my beck and call with all of my seemingly silly questions but I found the greatest comfort to my ‘engagement and stimulation’ concerns in my old textbooks and varsity buddies. No sooner had I opened the pages than it all came flooding back: how to ensure optimal learning, when they should lift their heads, how do to engage her, when they should sit, when they can walk etc. and I realised that my years of experience as an OT would help me facilitate Charlie’s development. I slowly became more and more confident and was soon able to educate Charlie’s nanny, Faith (and my right arm) on how to engage and stimulate her by explaining fun games that appeared to just be fun but had so many other benefits to her development. This was particularly useful when I returned to work as it ensured she was getting all the right input while I was not there, Faith was learning, growing and therefore enjoying her job more and I felt less guilty. It then dawned on me that there might be other moms out there who are at a loss of what to do with their smalls during the waking hours and feeling guilty as sin when returning to work, leaving their most precious bundle in the care of someone else. It is hugely daunting to think that we as parents need to care for this tiny love but it’s even scarier when we have to hand them over, hoping that their caregiver knows enough to not only care and comfort her but to also stimulate her and engage in her in play.  This is how Play Matters was born (excuse the pun)…

 

Lauren’s Story

The start of my journey with Play Matters is twofold: first and foremost as a Mum to a gorgeous, energetic 2 year old son and secondly as a preschool teacher. As I was nearing the end of my maternity leave I went in search of things for my little boy and his nanny, to do when I returned to work. I was very aware that they would be spending most of the day together at home. I knew he needed (and deserved) appropriate stimulation but at the same time that Happiness needed direction and guidance on how to correctly and effectively stimulate him. Many of the options I considered were either transport dependent or too broad in terms of the ages the activities covered. On the one hand I wanted Happiness to be challenged and to enjoy her job. Her happiness and job satisfaction (as one of his primary caregivers) was and is imperative to my son’s well-being. I was expecting an enormous amount from her and I needed to provide her with ideas, activities and guidance. I also needed the reassurance of knowing my son was engaging in fun play that was varied and addressed all areas in his development. When I returned to work as a preschool teacher I was increasingly mindful of the number of children needing intervention and additional support to help them with the demands of the classroom. This got me thinking further on how this need for assistance could be reduced, and the idea of a baby/toddler stimulation programme that also focused on the upskilling and educating of caregivers was born. And so my journey with Play Matters began...

 

Emma’s Story

In my Occupational Therapy practice I see many children with delays in all developmental areas: self-regulation, engagement, gross and fine motor, communication and visual perception. By the time they are referred for therapy this delay has become obvious and is affecting them in their everyday lives. These delays do not just pop up when they get to pre-school, they have been there from their first few years of life. The demands on children are growing every year and children who do not have a solid developmental foundation are falling behind. My goal with the development of Play Matters is to promote the development of these foundations. By stimulating the basic goals of development (body awareness, focus and motivation) in the age appropriate periods I hope that we can develop a generation of confident kids who are motivated to achieve their full potential: emotionally, socially and academically.

Your Partner in Engaging Your Child in Play

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