Can playing be educational? These mums are saying a resounding YES! For mummies Jacinth, the brains behind Our Little Playnest, and Vivien, co-founder of Bag For Fun (BFF), learning is literally fun and games.
Jacinth is a former schoolteacher who transitioned to be a stay-home-at-mom (SAHM) with the birth of Daryl, her eldest child. She wanted to apply her training and knowledge in the activities she plans for him, which ranged from playing, learning, exploring or reading almost every day. And thus, Our Little Playnest, an Instagram page that is equal parts activity log and parenting inspiration, was born: “I told my husband, ‘I should record these down so he (my son) will thank me when he grows up!’”.
But being a SAHM is increasingly uncommon, with 65.6% of married couples with at least one child claiming to be dual income households in 2015, up from 45.9% in 2000. Vivien, who was previously an auditor, realised that her two children learnt quickly through play, and they enjoyed it. “However, the preparation for such learning is a feat, especially for working mums.” Having seen that there was a lack of solutions in the market, she and two other mummy friends got together and started Bag For Fun in 2017.
Making Playtime Educational
We all enjoy activities that are interesting to us, children are no exception. Appeal to their likes, and create activities with educational elements so that your child does not see a distinction between playing and learning. “I usually conceptualize activities that are in line with my children’s interests. My son loves Dinosaurs, so we did a Dinosaurs learning unit that incorporates literacy, sensory play, numeracy, pretend play etc,” said Jacinth.
“His quest for learning drives me to come up with interesting activities every day.”
Learning Through Living
Learning is more than just about academic skills and subjects, it is also about inculcating positive values and habits. Children, with their curious nature, are probably the best pupils for learning by example. Vivien, who now works on BFF from home while her children are at school, napping, or asleep, has embraced her ‘mumpreneur’ status to be a role model.
“The process of coming up with a learning box involves brainstorming, drafting out the ideas, testing, sourcing, making samples and finally mass producing. We try to involve our children in the process as much as possible to that they can have a taste of how ‘work’ is like. Thankful to have them at home, always ready for my product testing.”
Finding the Balance Between Fun and Education
Although learning through play sounds like killing two birds with one stone, it is important to not miss the forest for the trees. Parents should ultimately prioritise making the time they spend with their child enjoyable and memorable.
Having taken the SAHM leap, Jacinth is able to take a much more hands-on approach to parenting, which has brought her closer to her children. However, it would not be possible without the support of her husband. She takes care to ensure that he gets his quality time with the kids as well.
“I believe in quality over quantity, it’s not about the amount of time spent together, but what is done during that father-child bonding time. My husband takes over on weekends where he will bring the kids out, read to them, help Daryl with his school homework and accompany him to practise his piano pieces. My son used to be very attached to me, but as he grows older, he looks up to his daddy and I can tell that he appreciates the time he can spend with his papa.”
Today, Jacinth has 15.4k followers on Our Little Playnest and inspires far more through her workshops and events.
Bag For Fun has developed six learning boxes across three distinct age groups, which are available on Goguru. Vivien and her partners are working hard on expanding their product range. “We have recently launched our last learning box of food theme on Food Source! We will also launch more busy board designs for the younger ones who are not ready for the learning boxes yet.”