After-School Play Ideas

After-School Play Ideas

Have you ever wondered why your child acts like a perfect angel at school, but once they get home, they fall apart? 

Experts call it restraint collapse, which is a fancy way of saying: They held it together all day at school and now they need to let it all hang out. Think about it: School is hard! Especially in the beginning of the year. Your little one is taking in new rules, sights, smells, and tons of other stimulation.  Just being away from their trusted grownup for a few hours takes a lot of getting used to.  When they get home, it’s time to relax. Here are a few ways to combat the after school restraint collapse while encouraging play and connection! 

3 Tips for Play: 

  1. Put out toys in the area where you will be.  Choose a few toys you know your child already loves and place them on the play table in your kitchen. Try adding a lump of playdough along with the dinosaur figures they already adore. Let them discover it. Having a familiar toy, plus a sensory component like playdough is a winning combo to soothe your child and inspire them to play. When they start playing, don't interrupt! Observe them and follow their lead.
  2. Does your child love to create? Give them the opportunity to hone their fine motor skills while relaxing those little minds.  Fill an art caddy with materials for an open ended art experience. Keep it simple, and let your child lead the way.  Some materials to include: sturdy paper or cardboard, stickers, quick dry paint sticks, some child friendly scissors, and some pencils
  3. Pair a simple snack that packs a punch. Your kids will come home hungry!! This is our favorite snack tray to fill up ahead of the after school rush. We love to add a fruit, a veggie, a dip, something sweet and something salty! Try this combo: Strawberries, Snap Peas, Ranch for dipping, pretzel rods, and a few chocolate chip cookies. Sit together over a yummy snack and read a book together. See some of our favorite book recommendations here

While it might be tempting to schedule playdates and soccer practices for after school, remember that your child needs downtime too.  Schedule in time for open ended play and art at home.  Your child will be so glad (and so will you!). 

Meet the expert

Lizzie Assa, MS. Ed., is Lalo's Head of Play & Development, founder of The Workspace for Children and mom of three

Lizzie Assa

Lizzie Assa, MS. Ed., is Lalo's Head of Play & Development and the founder of The Workspace for Children. She is a parenting strategist and independent play expert who believes that play is how children make sense of their world. Assa helps parents, caregivers, and teachers by offering them engaging, simple-to-set-up play ideas and tips for communicating more effectively with children. She has been featured in The New York Times, Parents, and The Wall Street Journal, and she is passionate about helping grownups create supportive environments for children and families to play and learn.

Assa is a graduate of the Bank Street College of Education in NYC, and she lives in Marblehead, MA with her husband, three children, and two goofy Goldendoodles. Assa is a passionate advocate for play, and she believes that it is essential for children's development. She is on a mission to help parents create a playful and supportive environment for their children to grow and learn.

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