As we move through the school year, parents across the country continue to juggle home-schooling with work as well as managing all the other household routines and await a safe return to school. But in the meantime for those with younger children, help is at hand from Becky Hoare – founder of Pop Up Play Village – the place where imaginations go wild and children learn through play. As a mum of two, former teacher and role play expert, she is uniquely placed to help parents keep children entertained, engaged, and learning in the confines of their homes.
“My kids are my number one priority, so looking after them and developing their learning has had to come first,” explains Becky. “I’m lucky as my business is family-based, supports educational learning and my children – aged 3 and 6 – are in the age group that I work with. This has made it much easier for me to juggle this exceptionally tricky load and it is why I’m sharing my ideas with other parents too.
All the activities I design are easy to do at home. They involve things you’ll have around the house and you can easily substitute one thing for another. And perhaps most importantly right now, they’re adaptable, so you can tailor the level of learning to the age and ability of each child. My most popular one to date has been the ‘create your own office’. First, we made a laptop from an old cardboard box. My son wrote out all the keyboard letters which was a great way for us to practice his handwriting and phonics. We then made a phone with all the numbers. My daughter decided she wanted her office to be a bank so out came the money, the till, and the chance to do some maths. Another big hit was the factory. My children decided to build a sweet factory using Lego. We then raided our recycling for old boxes we could use to store the sweets and created some amazing designs and handwritten labels. Watching their levels of engagement and the way they worked together on this one was fantastic.”
Sounds like child’s play for Becky and certainly more productive than a daily battle over the latest online learning resource. So why does role play work when other methods fail? “Learning through play is one of the best ways for children to learn,” explains Becky, “it comes naturally, gives them space to be creative, imaginative and inventive and it’s fun. Best of all, they don’t even realise they’re learning at all.”