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Ask the Expert: The Workspace for Children

the workspace for children logo
For this not so normal Back to School season, we have teamed up with some really amazing experts to help you stay sane and keep your kids engaged! First up, we would like to introduce Lizzie Assa from The Workspace for Children!
ABOUT: Welcome to The Workspace for Children where you will find simple, creative ways for connecting with your children and making this whole mamahood thing a whole lot easier.  You will never find perfect parenting over here, because I don’t believe it exists.  I do believe in PLAY as a way of life and I offer tips for helping us all feel a little bit more playful. At The Workspace for Children you will find unique tips for art with kids, play as a way of life, and strategies that will help you become a more confident parent. 
BIO: Hi, I’m Lizzie Assa, the mom behind The Workspace for Children. Prior to becoming a mom, I received my Masters in Education from Bank Street College of Education and taught nursery school in NYC. Fast forward a few years and I am a mom of three creative kids, ages seven, ten and thirteen.  I am a parenting strategist and play advocate, living in Maplewood, NJ. I help moms avoid burnout by bringing back play. At The Workspace for Children you will find creative inspiration for living a play based life with kids.
lizzie assa headshot
1. Please tell us a bit about Workspace for Children, how/when it was created and why you decided to create this platform? The Workspace for Children started as a process art studio that I ran out of my home in 2014. The studio was our physical ‘workspace’ where I set up art and play experiences for young children and their grownups. Over the years, it morphed into a blog and Instagram, but it got its name from our old studio. Truth is, the name still fits! The world can be a workspace for our children if we just change our thinking a little bit. Children can learn just as much from jumping in a big puddle as they can when they play in a fancy water table. Rocks, twigs and pinecones make wonderful loose parts for play and so do the beautiful open ended wooden toys that we can find for sale. A well appointed playroom is equally as valuable as a patch of grass in the park.  Play does not need to be complicated and the world can be a child’s workspace.
2. Tell us about your ideal “workspace”? How can our followers easily implement this into their own lives? The world can be a workspace for our children if we just change our thinking a little bit. 

I find that simplifying your child’s workspace is the best way to implement play in the home. I recommend that parents and caregivers take a look at the child’s play space and take out half of what is there. Pairing down what’s available supports children in making choices and getting started playing. Clearing things out works like magic! 

the girls playing in the workspace

3. “Independent play” is a term you discuss a lot, please explain this and why you think it is important. Independent Play is when a child plays alone in a self-directed manner. They dictate their own ideas and execute them accordingly. It might happen for a few moments, or a long period of time. Independent play is so important for children because it allows children to create a world that they can control. Independent play allows children the time and space that they need to make sense of things in a way that they can understand. It gives them time to process and assimilate everything they are learning in their every day loves.  Independent play is important for mamas because it allows them to take a break from the 24-7 parenting loop.

4. “Quiet time” is another term you discuss a lot, please explain this and why you think it is important. Quiet Time is a specified time scheduled into the day for independent play to take place. This gives the child and the adult a scheduled time every single day to meet his or her own needs. One of the many benefits of quiet time is that it gives children the opportunity to practice playing independently every single day. The daily practice means they get REALLY good at playing. They learn to embrace this self-directed time, and enjoy ‘boredom,’ giving them the opportunities to explore their own thoughts and interests. During quiet time, they are actually building the neural pathways that will support them in becoming EXPERTS at play in the future. 

little girl at play

5. How will “independent play” & “quiet time” be adapted with the change from Summer to Fall/Back to School Season? Quiet time and independent play are especially important in the COVID- back to school season. Parental burnout is at an all-time high.  Committing to a daily quiet time for the whole family gives everyone the break they need and deserve.

6. Parents are obviously entering uncharted territory with this new Back to School season, any advice on how to navigate the pressures of at-home learning? Absolutely. First, I think everyone should follow a routine that works for their actual family, not⁣⁣ a color coded chart that works for someone else's family. ⁣⁣Second, prioritize your own mental health over anything else. Find the thing that makes you feel centered and make it happen. Distance learning is not the same thing as homeschooling by choice. This is intensely stressful.  Remember that if you are struggling, it is not because you are flawed. The system is flawed. Finally, lower expectations of what homeschool is supposed to look like and feel like. Lower them again. (I’m aiming for done is better than perfect.)⁣⁣

7. Please tell us about your programs that you offer on your platform? How do you sign up? On my blog (www.workspaceforchildren.com), I offer advice and tips for raising creative, independent children.  This includes art, play, and parenting.  I also have an ebook, Your Guide to Quiet Time and Independent Play available on my website.  I am so excited to tell you that over three thousand people have downloaded the guide and are using this proven method to implement daily quiet time and independent play in their own homes. Finally, I offer an audio course and interactive workbook, which is available in a membership area.  I only release spots into the program a few times a year, because It is so important to me to be able to support the students who go through my program in finding success with daily quiet time and independent play.

8. Any ideas for future programs and evolving the platform? The Workspace for Children is ever-evolving. I love building this community, it is so important to me.  I am currently working on a second ebook to be released in the fall of 2020. Stay tuned!

lizzies little girls

(Lizzie's children - ages 6, 9 and 11)

 

 

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