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Finding Learning Fun with Child-Led Play

Have you ever tried to lead your child in an activity only to find this structured play felt less like play and more like work, leaving everyone frustrated in the end?

If so, you’re not alone. Recently, some parents have found their children flourish with child-led learning. Where some classes and get-togethers turned virtual, “child-led” play encourages child-led play gives children the opportunity to choose their own learning activities, observing how children approach an activity and adapt a task to their own direction.

For Rochester area mom Kristin Burke and her daughters, Maggie (6) and Hazel (2), child-led play was something that came about organically. After looking into the Montessori method of education for their eldest, Burke and her husband, Peter, shifted their focus due to Covid. Balancing working from home with homeschooling, Burke found herself looking to keep her daughters both entertained and learning.

The mom of two launched her Instagram, @Wildflowers_and_Mama, in the fall of 2020, never anticipating it would gain popularity. Filling her feed with activities for her daughters, Burke has taken the world of child-led play by storm. “My idea behind child-led play was to make up for all of the fun activities Maggie was missing out on in kindergarten,” Burke said. “Like a lot of kids, she wasn’t meant for virtual school. She’s a very curious kid and a hands-on learner.”

Burke’s activities have quickly grown into weekend events. The Burkes create “bucket lists” of activities for their girls. “We ask our daughters what they want to learn about each week, and we let the girls run the show—as much as kids can.” Many activities stem from ideas posed by Maggie; others are from Mom, though the girls don’t hesitate to weigh in.