Play in a Home-based Setting

Play in a Home-based Setting

4 August 2014

Children are naturally physically active and the environment has a role in engaging children in physically active play.  Physically active play requires special attention in home-based child care.

In-home programmes offer families a great choice for care of their young children, providing small numbers of children in care and the presence of a central Educator.   Home-based care, however, typically requires Educators to balance the space needed for family life and providing home-based childcare.   The unique challenge is to be able to create an environment that supports the developmental needs of children and still allows the Educator and their family to function in their own homes.

Frequently children of different ages are cared for in mixed-age groups in home-based care, adding to outdoor play challenges. Consider these ideas that expand children’s opportunities for vigorous play.

  • Consider the resources the wider community might offer.
  • Identify routes for safe neighbourhood walks.
  • Hard surfaces, such as paths or compacted soil, are excellent for ride-on toys and wagons.
  • A simple dirt mound allows children to dig with sticks and small shovels.
  • A plot of shrubbery, free of debris, offers an area for playing traditional nursery games like Duck-Duck-Goose or We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, or for quiet reading and listening games.
  • Traditional playground toys such as balls, jump ropes, foldable tunnels, cones, tricycles, wagons, and dramatic play props and costumes invite children to run, jump, crawl, push, pull, and otherwise develop and use large muscles.
  • Less typical play items such as barrels, garden tools, and buckets engage children in physical activity and creative play.
  • Water hoses, misting bottles, and scrub brushes make quick work of cleaning wheel toys, sidewalks, and wooden fences while keeping children cool and physically active.
  • Use large appliance boxes to invite children into creative and cooperative play.
  • Point out pine cones, stones, twigs, tree bark, leaves, branches, and stones for children to gather and sort.
  • Tree stumps and large stones can provide opportunities for children to jump from one to another, practicing balancing skills and enriching the imagination.
  • The flexibility of natural materials is well suited for mixed age groupings as they allow children to choose when and how they might be used.