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For both adults and children being in a playful state of mind is one of the best ways to learn and retain information.

Think of a time when you effortlessly learnt the most or effortlessly retained most of a conversation, or a course or a newspaper article. When someone asked you a question and you instantly knew the answer.

Chances are you were in highly receptive playful state.

Now playful can mean different things to different people. To me it means, your thoughts are not running off into the future, your thoughts are not running off into the past, your thoughts are focused on the here and now.

This is often referred to as the present moment. The moment when you are following the energy of here and now and whatever is occurring right now. It is the space within which you are at your most creative and playful.

I believe being in the present moment is where you and your child can be the most playful and learn the most.

Children are born with a naturally playful present state. Last week I took my 5 year old son to visit a specialist and it had been over a year since we last had been to this building where the specialist was located.

We walked into the building and I asked my son, “do you know what floor we need to go to?” He immediately responded, “Level 3.” Sure enough, when I checked on the building information it was level 3 and this building had 22 levels, of which I had no idea of the correct floor.

He was so present when we last visited he absorbed the level and retained and recalled this information more than 12 months on! Sure it could have been a fluke, but so many other things have happened to prove this theory.

I went to a Jazzercise class tonight. It was the first time in over 8 years that I had attended a group exercise class of this kind.

Previously I would have dreaded attending a new class with lots of new moves to learn and questioned whether I’d be able to learn the moves and get them all right. This was mind racing off into the future analyzing what hadn’t yet happened and making reference to past classes I have attended.

SO I tested my theory. I went into the class in a playful present state and guess what? I was able to follow every move and for those I didn’t get right, there was no internal dialogue beating myself up for getting it wrong etc., I accepted the mistakes and moved on.

I didn’t allow my thoughts to go off into the future or into the past – I followed the energy of what was happening in that moment – I ended up having a ball and learnt some new groovy moves too!

Don’t take my word for it – try it. Children are masters at playful states, so take a lesson from them. That’s how I started to access the playful present state and shift my ways.

Sit down with your child on a mat and follow the energy of what they are doing. If they are quiet, you be quiet. If they are making noise you make noise. Play alongside them. Follow whatever they are doing and allow them to take the lead.

Keep your mind focused on your child. If you get distracted, that’s ok – bring yourself back to the play. Practice this over and over, at least 3-4 times a week, until it becomes easier to step into the playful present state with your child and notice the magic that occurs.

Notice how much more you learn and are creative during and after your play session.

Notice how much your child absorbs of the activity you are engaged in – it is truly amazing!

If you’d like to find out more about how to create this mindset click here.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Some children have a photographic memory too. A friend of mine has a large poster with the times tables on it (arithmetic). It was removed about 12 months ago when we did some painting. Master 4 y.o has started saying his tables. Only thing I can think of is he has manage to memorise them. He started counting around about the time we took it down.

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  • Sounds great, thank you for sharing.

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  • Lol, I look at the picture accompanying this article and am reminded of paint sessions with my kids that ended up with us having more paint then the paper!

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  • Very interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing =)

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  • Children do remember many things that we deem ‘trivial’. I wonder if it is because they have less life experiences to draw upon so the ‘mundane’ things are a bigger deal to them, therefore, they remember these things.

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  • Great read. Will try put some of this into action.

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  • Being a single mum I do alot of playtime I probably get too involved :)

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  • “I believe being in the present moment is where you and your child can be the most playful and learn the most”…..this is really true. Thanks for the story.

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  • Thanks again for sharing; had a lovely play day.

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  • I’m going to give this a go tomorrow. Something I need to do more often. Thank you.

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  • I’m a childcare educator and passionately believe in play based learning. At home my son Is free to play how he feels and he has freedom to play as he chooses. I spend most of my time following his lead and its worked out well for us. I just wish I had the energy to be as playful as him.

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting and thoughtful article; some really good points.

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  • Great advice to be conscious & aware in the present.

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  • I love playing With my children it’s so much fun and good for them

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  • Great tips especially what I would get out of it,I’m a constant over thinker

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