The Stages of Play and Friendship

How to teach emotional intelligence

How does socialization work in homeschooling? Children play differently according to their brain development. They move from single play (babies play with toys by themselves) to parallel play (toddlers play side by side but don’t interact other than to grab a toy) to associative play (preschoolers begin to “play together”) to cooperative play (young children that really play together in free play or organized play) which is elementary school years. Children ages 4-12 have friends based on who is around them and shares the same interests. I remember my child telling me about his friend at age 6 but couldn’t remember his name or where he lived. As children move into the teen years, their friends are deliberately chosen based on shared interests but also shared values, beliefs and attitudes.

All children need is one good friend and siblings count, although they can have scads of them if they want. Most homeschooled children are still very much close to family and siblings because family comes first, but also see many outside the family friends because homeschoolers do not stay at home! They “community school.” Friends come from lessons, outings, group projects, co-ops, musical and art community groups, Girl Guides, church, neighborhood, etc. Friends are not just the same cohort as classmates. So homeschooling socialization is more diverse than an age-sorted classroom. Friends are from all cultures, races, genders, family shapes, and ages.

Friends also change depending on life cycles. My daughters friends in early childhood are not the friends she had in high school and not the same friends she had in university. There are new friends for every new life stage. We were looking at photo albums the other day and she doesn’t remember any of her childhood friends before age 12. Same with my other 4 kids.

Socialization doesn’t have to be a worry in homeschooling. Friends are everywhere!


Baby Playtime: How Much is Enough?


New moms often ask, “How much should I play with baby?”  The simple answer is, “As much as you wish to.”  Babies love faces and the best time to interact with those they love is face-to-face contact times such as bath times, diaper changes, and feeding times.

During those contact times, it helps to sing, talk, tickle, read, make facial expressions and use vocal variety to baby.  Don’t forget to smile.  Babies love facial interaction and they will naturally turn their head away when they have had enough.

Try to give baby some “tummy time” for several minute periods each day.  It helps baby to develop neck and upper arm muscles and it relieves pressure on the head so that the risk of plagiocephally (flat head) is reduced.  Many babies don’t like tummy time, on a hard floor, so it can be helpful to put baby on parent’s chest while parent is lying down on the sofa.  This counts as tummy time.  Also, keep in mind that tummy time can be several minutes, several times a day, instead of a twenty-minute marathon every day.

Baby carriers are a wonderful way for babies to be stimulated and entertained through the day.  Baby watching you make dinner from the elevated view of a backpack is fascinating for him and is just as stimulating for his brain development as watching “educational” videos.

In spite of our society’s intensive push to give early learning to young children, try to avoid worrying about how much stimulation and playtime she is supposed to be getting.  If you enjoy spending time with baby, interacting with your natural enthusiasm, rest assured she is getting enough stimulation! (403) 714-6766

Screen Free Play Ideas for Children of All Ages

Bored children?  Need some ideas for getting children away from screens?  Here are some tips for all ages:

Read about the importance of play for kids of all ages:

Help! It’s Spring Break! Ideas for Family Fun

I’m Bored!

Help!  It’s Spring Break!

Spring break is almost upon us and parents are scrambling to figure out how to keep the kids entertained.  First, it’s not your job to “keep them busy.” Let them be bored – it spurs creative thinking on their part.  Especially if you keep the switch to the wifi off! When they whine about boredom, here are some suggestions to make Spring break fun.  And, if they slide into video game oblivion, don’t worry.  Remember the “break” word in Spring break and realize they need some unstructured, veg-out, down time from their daily routines too.  It’s only one week!



  • Board games inside
  • Go for a walk in nature reserves or the zoo
  • Play hide and seek outdoors in a new park
  • Give Easter treats that are different than chocolate – sidewalk chalk, bubbles, skipping ropes, remote control cars, balls, badminton sets
  • Go geocaching
  • Bake or teach older kids to cook
  • Send them outside with a small task to do.  Once they are outside, kids find interesting things to do on their own.  It’s just getting them out that is hard.
  • Teach a new card game
  • Drop your tweens and teens off at the local library to try new programs on the computers.
  • Dig out those Christmas puzzles, craft kits, paint by number kits and building kits that never got opened or didn’t get finished at Christmas
  • Go to a second hand children’s store and pick up some treasures.  We just got a kit of Snap Circuits that kept the kids busy for a week building the circuit boards.
  • Dig out the Nerf guns and bullets – let them go wild in the house.  Even better, someone could host a couple of kids and a Nerf party in their house or a nearby park.
  • Have a theme movie week – The Harry Potter movie fest. Watch one movie per day
  • Camp inside the family room
  • Start a project such as cleaning out the basement or painting a room.  Get the teens to help.
  • Pay the teens to do a big job such as categorize and print all those photos on your computer.

Happy break!

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting and Teacher Conference Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling print book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, The Last Word on Parenting Advice (403) 714-6766