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Aiming for Independent Play

Posted August 11, 2010

Are you constantly busy with your children, providing activities, driving them places, trying to stave off whining, boredom and temper tantrums?  If so, you may be exhausted!  When children are overly entertained and have not acquired the ability to play alone, they tend to become increasingly demanding and always look to the parent of caregiver to solve their boredom.

Teaching children from an early age to play independently is to give them a life-long skill.  To be able to entertain oneself with one's own thoughts and ideas leads a child toward a rich inner life.  A child who cannot play by herself must be constantly vigilant in an effort to cajole or whine her way toward finding a playmant, usually a parent or a caregiver.  Naturally, adults are the most interesting to play with because they are willing to lead the play and the child is often free to take a back seat.

Parents who want to encourage independent play for their child can begin early, by around 6-8 months.  Leave your baby sitting with a small basket of measuring spoons, plastic cups and suckable objects for 10-20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day. Now your child has the opportunity to relate to his toys without an adult directly present.  You may come back and forth occasionally, adding an item or idea; with a toddler, you might stop for a sip of pretend tea or give a kiss to a bear, but these interludes are brief and your child learns over time that the best ideas exist in his own head.

Sets of zoo animals, farm animals, play people, hats, containers, a little music and a tiny bowl of dry Cheerios, make the playtimes feel special.  For easy tidying, store each category of play props (toys) in individual baskets.

With this approach, you become the facilatator of your child's play, providing the props, the opportunity and the privacy without slipping into the rold of entertainer.  Regrouping the toys from time to time and interspersing these independent playtimes with story-reading, naps and mealtimes, means that by the end of the day you may even have enough energy left to entertain yourself - and admire your good parenting!

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Filed under: Daily Routines, Play


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Aiming for Independent Play

Posted August 11, 2010

Are you constantly busy with your children, providing activities, driving them places, trying to stave off whining, boredom and temper tantrums?  If so, you may be exhausted!  When children are overly entertained and have not acquired the ability to play alone, they tend to become increasingly demanding and always look to the parent of caregiver to solve their boredom.

Teaching children from an early age to play independently is to give them a life-long skill.  To be able to entertain oneself with one's own thoughts and ideas leads a child toward a rich inner life.  A child who cannot play by herself must be constantly vigilant in an effort to cajole or whine her way toward finding a playmant, usually a parent or a caregiver.  Naturally, adults are the most interesting to play with because they are willing to lead the play and the child is often free to take a back seat.

Parents who want to encourage independent play for their child can begin early, by around 6-8 months.  Leave your baby sitting with a small basket of measuring spoons, plastic cups and suckable objects for 10-20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day. Now your child has the opportunity to relate to his toys without an adult directly present.  You may come back and forth occasionally, adding an item or idea; with a toddler, you might stop for a sip of pretend tea or give a kiss to a bear, but these interludes are brief and your child learns over time that the best ideas exist in his own head.

Sets of zoo animals, farm animals, play people, hats, containers, a little music and a tiny bowl of dry Cheerios, make the playtimes feel special.  For easy tidying, store each category of play props (toys) in individual baskets.

With this approach, you become the facilatator of your child's play, providing the props, the opportunity and the privacy without slipping into the rold of entertainer.  Regrouping the toys from time to time and interspersing these independent playtimes with story-reading, naps and mealtimes, means that by the end of the day you may even have enough energy left to entertain yourself - and admire your good parenting!

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Filed under: Daily Routines, Play


Your Toddler Exploring Independently in your Back Yard

Posted August 10, 2010

Summer isn't over yet!  There is still time to set up your fenced, back yard to be explored by your toddler.  To see a toddler puttering around their own back yard is so very gratifying because you know how much more valuable this experience is than if she were at a class where she had to line up, wait her turn, and do what everybody else does.  In your back yard, there's magic!

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