The past decades have seen many shifts in what our society see as play and in turn the vast amount of toys that are accessible to parents to purchase. Sometimes as parents we feel overwhelmed, people telling us this, others saying that. There is guilt and expectations and fads and pressure, all that make us second guess ourselves and at the end of the day we just want to give our babies the best start to life and see them happy and thriving. We started here. We thought, lets strip it back and go back to basics, what do children truly need? If we took away the plastic, the over stimulation, the dependence on toy entertainment, what is at the heart of it all? What is play and what types of play provide greater outcomes for our children?
We developed a strong passion for not only how young children play but what items foster opportunities and reflect the potential of mind. We began to see the significant connection between open ended items and enabling a baby to discover or learn something for themselves. In particular we wanted to focus on real world items to ensure children were playing with lots of different textures and materials. A full sensory experience where children were exposed to a variety of weights, shapes, sizes, feelings, smells, temperatures (instead of the same plastic feeling).
From here the NavyBaby vision was born.
The term ‘Heuristic Play’ was a term coined by child Psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the 1980’s which describes an activity children engage in to explore the properties of objects from the real world. Having heuristic, loose part play items is literally a basket of treasures and a basket of potential – there are no specific directions, no boundaries or limits on the outcomes of the play. They don't have a purpose and that is the catch! Your child can create, construct, manipulate, explore, investigate, express, imagine, analyse and while refining these learning dispositions are actually constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing working theories about how the items in their environment work. They are thinking. They are experimenting and problem solving, they are developing life long learning skills.
For infants who aren't yet grasping or holding items we recommend placing the items close by for investigation or hanging them. Looking is learning!
For young baby's handling items, invite your child to play by setting the items in differing ways on different days. For example a low sided, uncluttered basket or an array of items laid out.
For older children who are moving and standing we recommend to continue providing provocations and growing your collection to expand on their play space. Click here for some ideas!
Loose part, heuristic play encourages investigation and curiosity! Together, these materials and philosophies are the key to it all. They are open. Open to interpretation from your capable, inquisitive baby! Your baby can’t fail, your baby can’t become frustrated, your baby doesn’t need you to show them how to do it, or fix it. There is no right or wrong way to interact with them and that is the beauty. Let your child be the actor, director and script writer in their own play.
We advise to offer these items to your baby and respectfully observe their play. This can be as young as 8 weeks old by placing an item close by for observation. Provide your baby with lots of time to explore each day so there is possibilities for growing knowledge and revisiting their ideas. No matter the age of the child, the items can slot into your child’s current understandings and stage of development. They are free of restrictions and as the heuristic play develops so does the opportunities for creativity, imagination, confidence and positive learning associations that affirm your babies’ capabilities.