Tuesday, January 11, 2011

learning to play - and a little update

I bet you never thought you would have to teach a child to play. Kind of an odd idea and one that may not be normal in some families, but in a family with a newly adopted child you may find yourself "teaching kids to play". There are a variety of reasons that kids need some coaching in this area. It could be that developmentally they missed some stages in their previous settings, possibly that toys were not available, or what about the idea that kids had "adult" responsibilities put on them and they didn't have the freedom just to BE KIDS.

We have worked hard to provide lots of age appropriate toys and opportunities for the boys to learn to play. Our younger one has learned this a bit more quickly than our older one. Could be his age is just more teachable or maybe it is part of his personality. Tate is learning and exploring on a pretty normal level. He has really gone from
exploring on an infant level to a toddler level. It is fun to watch him learn and explore and make up for some lost time.

Tate can entertain himself pretty well and he is learning to play with others. He has some GROWING to do in this area. But he still doesn't participate in the class at church yet and once he goes more often, he should learn some social skills pretty quickly. It seems to be more important to us to keep him with us and bond some more before he goes to class without us.

Tate still seems content observing kids play from a distance and he is slowly exploring and more willing to play with the kids rather than stay by mom's side. Tate has also learned to use pretend play and likes to make noises and uses drama in his play. He (as you can tell from the pictures) is more serious in his personality. He is still cautious with his smile and isn't eager to share it for the camera.

Adu (that's what we call him...short for Fikadu)...he is a different story. Learning to play is a challenge for him. To ask him to go find a toy to play with is almost like punishment. This has been an unexpected challenge. He likes to play with YOU and not on his own. He like to "bug" his siblings or make noise to irritate those around him, but to play with a toy...almost unheard of. He hasn't learned to play pretend or dramatic play. He doesn't like most toys. He has really taken to games (like connect 4) and it helps to have his mind challenged. He doesn't do well if there is unstructured time (like free play time). He thrives off of routine and action and sports and people. He did GREAT at soccer and that was a perfect fit for him. He loved the challenge, the action, the game...the whole thing. We are missing that right now during the winter season.

We have seen improvement over the last months. He is slowly learning to find a puzzle, or play on his scooter or skateboard or go adventuring in the back yard. He does well if we give him a challenge like a scavenger hunt or an idea for an adventure. He is creative and has the mind of an engineer. He loves to create and draw and figure things out. He enjoys writing letters and numbers and creating pictures of our family. But give him some ninja fighting action figures...no thanks.

This was a day he took a boogie board and surfed down the creek that is behind our home. It was so fun to watch him balance and hop on and SLOWLY float down the stream. He had a BLAST. He was playing. And it was an absolute JOY to watch him.

He is LEARNING to PLAY. It takes time. He may not always gravitate toward toys and traditional play time. We have learned to trust God in how he designed our boys. They are created in His image. They are exactly how He wants them to be.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Cris. It's very helpful that you pointed this out as it is true in our household too, and I need to realize that playing is a new "skill."

  2. Just from your writing(obviously) - I think your older son is doing great!!! My son too would always choose an activity/game/even help around the house, over a toy (and he's now 10). My daughter is the opposite. She could easily entertain herself with play for hours. The benefit that I see - he is so much more self sufficient and already has life skills that my daughter is not even close to having (because she would rather read/draw/play). A To Do that she will need to focus on this summer. Your boys are SO HANDSOME!!!

  3. Love, love, love your pictures! They themselves tell a big part of the story. Thanks for sharing your heart. Can hardly believe we're on the 11th month of being home. Praise God!

  4. Just in case you haven't thought of it, Lego was a huge hit in our home.

  5. I've never commented on here before, but I had to tell you, your boys are just so handsome! And you all seem to be doing so well!

  6. Great to catch up reading your blog...and kuddos to you for trying to keep up with it all. Bless you sister. So glad that hard month is behind you...and that you can see the healing and settling that God has given through that tough time. Love you!!!