Embrace the Joy!

As I sit down to write this blog, my week is coming to a close. It’s Friday. I’ve spent my workdays in a virtual conference learning, meeting people from different communities, and listening to motivating speakers. Like so many large gatherings today, this conference was provided virtually. Via my computer screen, I was able to see lots of home visitors share their stories about their virtual home visiting experiences. As I listened, I began to think back to my home visiting days, which don’t seem that long ago but were still some years before the COVID pandemic rattled this globe.  

Beautiful moments filled each home that I visited. As I put myself in my imaginary time machine, I can visualize the baby learning to make sounds as they say, “Mama” for the very first time. I can see the toddler popping bubbles as they squeal with excitement. These are only a couple of the MANY wonderful moments that sparked from parent-child activities.

I can only imagine that doing activities in a virtual setting is challenging. Technology malfunctions, internet connections can be unstable, and it’s hard to ensure parents have supplies for activities. We’re in uncharted waters. However, I believe you’re shining a light, and with this glow, you can facilitate joy through each FaceTime, Zoom call, or telephone conversation.

With your light shining, I invite you to embrace parent-child activities and go with the flow. View activities as a starting point for lots of fun. Develop ideas from the supply lists instead of viewing them as necessary. If an activity says you need materials like paper plates and duct tape to make patterns for babies, embrace the moment. A family might not have these items available. However, they can gather socks, dish towels, or even shirts with different patterns. If an activity says to use cardstock, but a family doesn’t have this on hand, embrace the moment. Encourage them to use scrap paper instead. As long as supplies are safe, there is still fun to be had. There are also lots of activities that don’t require supplies and can be facilitated virtually.

Child development specialists remind us that children don’t need expensive toys. They say safe household items can do the trick when it comes to creating fun play.1,2  They also share that a child enjoys playing WITH their parent the most.2  This is why these experts reiterate the importance of parents joining their children for joyful interactions. Playful moments support children’s development, lessen parents’ stress, and help kids learn how to build healthy relationships with others.2,3  When parents play with their children, they do so much more than have fun. They model joyful and loving connections, which teaches children how to develop these connections as they grow older.3  A bonus is all the wonderful memories created for families.2

I know I’ll forever cherish Saturday nights around my grandmother’s kitchen table as she indulged my brother and me in countless games of Uno or her joining me on all my bike rides as she walked right along beside me. I don’t remember what that bike even looked like or the details of those cards. However, I sure do remember my grandma’s smiles, laughs, and the love she poured out for me as we played together. All those joyful interactions that grew from play, I’ll hold dear forever.

References

1. Canadian Pediatric Society. (2017, May). Your busy toddler: Games, toys, and play in the second year of life. Caring for kids. https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and development/your_busy_toddler

2. Lerner, C., & Greenip, S. (2004). The power of play: Learning through play from birth to three. Zero To Three. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/311-the-power-of-play

3. Siegel, D. J. (2011). The whole-brain child: 12 Revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. Bantam Books.

About the Author
Rachel Cook is a Product Development Specialist. Before joining Great Kids®, she worked as a home visitor with Kentucky HANDS. Rachel lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, where she loves writing and exploring nature.

Recent Posts

Messy Fun Makes Healthy Brains

As I settle in to write this evening, the blue sky is fading to dark, and the evidence of a busy day lies scattered amongst my home. Stacked dishes fill the kitchen sink, toys decorate the living room floor, and dirty laundry overflows from every hamper.

read more

Growing Resilience

 Why am I talking about trees, you might wonder? Well, yesterday’s incident got me thinking about how unexpected storms can also come up in life, and if we, our families, and our communities are healthy and resilient, we’re in a better place to withstand these pressures and thrive.

read more

Share a Meal…Spread the Love

March is finally here! If you’re like me, you’re eager for this month to arrive. I’m happy to welcome longer days, warmer weather, and a brand-new season. One of the ways my family celebrates the budding trees and blooming flowers is by firing up the grill. You can often find us stacking shish kabobs with colorful peppers, slices of sweet onion, and juicy chunks of pineapple.

read more

Beautiful Bonds Last a Lifetime

Almost a decade later, when I reflect on this memory, I can still feel this parent’s presence. At that moment, nothing else mattered in the entire world to this parent. It almost seemed as if time was standing still. Looking back on this memory, it’s obvious what was happening right before my eyes. This parent was fully present with their infant. A secure attachment relationship was forming.

read more

Walking Your Talk

I paused at the entrance to the trail, double-checking that I was prepared for the unknown.  Water, check.  Shoes tied, check. Trail map, check.  I took a deep breath and my first steps into uncertain terrain.  Equal parts eager and apprehensive. 

read more

Being Present is Present Enough

In training a few weeks ago, a home visitor shared that her families often express that “they are not doing enough,” and this struck me because I realized I’ve been hearing this sentiment shared a lot lately. Maybe you’ve even had these thoughts yourself:

read more

Growing Great Kids®

Why Choose Great Kids?

Never any recurring licensing fees

Proven Success

Over 37,000 people have been trained to use the Great Kids curricula

Protective Factors – GGK Constructs

Research informed constructs embedded in the Protective Factors Framework

Alignment with Head Start

The Growing Great Kids Home Based Curricula Series exceeds all Head Start Curriculum requirements

Evidenced Based Research

As evidenced by seven independent evaluations, the GGK Curriculum produces outstanding results

Specialized Training Programs 

On-site and virtual training options available

Healthy Families America

The Growing Great Kids curriculum aligns with and builds upon the HFA model approach