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.