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Spotlight on Lizzie Assa, Founder of The Workspace for Children

Meet the ultra inspiring Lizzie Assa, mom of three and founder of the beloved Instagram and Blog, The Workspace for Children (one of my very favorite accounts on Instagram!). Lizzie embodies a play-based lifestyle and is a wealth of information about child development, parenting and the power of play. Recently Lizzie launched her first e-book, Your Guide to Quiet Time and Independent Play. which provides a thoughtful and practical roadmap for teaching your child how to play independently. We can't wait for you to get to know Lizzie, who inspires us daily! 

We are big fans of yours and celebrate the thoughtful, playful spirit of The Workspace for Children. Tell us more about you and why you believe that encouraging imaginative play is so important.

Thank you! The feeling is mutual.  I am a proud mama of three spirited children, a digital content creator, a writer and an advocate for play as a way of life.  I have a background in early childhood education, and before raising my own children I had the opportunity to teach in NYC and learn from some very talented educators.

In all of my years of teaching and parenting, one thing stands out to me above everything else; children need to opportunity to play.

Why? Think about how many things an individual child learns in one day.  They are soaking in knowledge about the world with every step they take. Imaginative play allows them the opportunity to assimilate that knowledge in a way that makes sense to them.  

Your blog & Instagram inspire so many. What are some of the things that inspire you most?

Being in nature with my children is a big one for me.  Seeing natural materials through their eyes makes my mind race with ideas! I also love observing toddlers and young children out in the wild. Being a quiet presence and letting them lead can offer a real education for any adult. 

We are both big believers in the power of open-ended play with intentional materials. How do you choose toys and play materials for your children?

When I am deciding to add anything to our playroom, I ask myself two questions.  First, I want to know if the material is open-ended, giving it the ability to be useful for a range of ages and stages of development. Second, I want to know if it is a well-made material.  I believe that toys are made to be played with and not sit on a shelf. I want to make sure the material can withstand the rigors of children using it over and over for many years. Many of the materials in my own playroom are ten years old or more!

One of the questions we get asked most often is "How can I teach my child to play on his/her own without a screen?" Tell us a bit about how your e-book answers this question.

In my ebook, I provide an actionable plan to get your child playing independently, at any age. 

Like all important skills, independent play takes patience and lots of practice, but I truly believe that all children are capable and deserving of time and space to play on their own. 

My ebook is intentionally short. I aimed to make it digestible for busy parents and caregivers. I offer a step by step guide for introducing and supporting quiet independent play. Included in the book, is the language you’ll use, how to adapt quiet time for different ages, what to do when you travel, and troubleshooting tips! 

Why is independent play time so important for children?

Today, more than ever before, our children are BUSY! There are so many activities and so much they are expected to accomplish in their little lives.  Often, they are being told where to sit, what to draw or write, how to throw a ball, etc. With all of that ‘noise’ there are few opportunities for them to hear their own inner voice, let alone the time to listen to what it is saying. Quiet, independent play allows children to just be. It allows them to slow down and focus on the things they are interested in without any outside influence. Perhaps most importantly, independent play gives children a chance to practice everything they are learning in a way that makes sense to them. 

What piece of advice would you give to a parent that claims, “But, I’m not creative or playful…” 

That’s perfectly okay!! Often, people make the mistake of thinking that I play with my children. I don’t. More often than not, I will tell them to go do their ‘work’ while I am doing mine.

Their work is PLAY. It is about their ideas, not mine. For me, it is about providing the time and space for my children to be creative as much as possible. It is about making that time a part of daily life.

You do not need to get any more creative than a simple piece of paper and some sharpened pencils for your children to dive in and create. A tub of soapy water and a few small bowls can entertain a toddler for ages!! The less effort it takes on our end (parents), the more likely we are to get in the habit of inviting our children to play and create.  

Let’s talk about raising your three beautiful children! Do they have similar learning styles and interests? How do you support their differences?

Nate has the mind of an engineer. He is constantly thinking about how things work and how he can improve those things. Ruby thinks in colors and patterns. Her sense of style and design blow me away. Sloane can literally play with ANYTHING. My big ones just reminded me of a time when were on a long car trip and Sloane played a detailed and intricate game of pretend with just two potato chips! It is so easy for her to disappear into her own beautiful world of pretend. I hope she retains that ability forever.  

The one thing that is similar for all three children with different learning styles and interests, is the ability to create. They can create art or games that support their own interests and abilities using basic, simple materials for art and play.                 

Lightning Round: 

Favorite Ice Cream? Chocolate-peanut butter, no question. 

Early Bird or Night Owl? Absolutely, one hundred percent early bird. 

Heels or sneakers? Sneakers!!

The super power you would have is? To wave a wand and have the laundry clean and put away and the house in order. 

Favorite color? Pink and orange 

Books or movies? Books 

Plate of French fries or slice of cake? Both? 

You have an open plane ticket—where will you go?! I’m itching to get to Barcelona this year. 

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