2020 has been tough on everyone, especially for families that now have to figure out working from home and keeping their kids 24 hrs a day. Parents are finding themselves trying to keep their kids entertained and learning, while still trying to work, and run a household during a pandemic. Here’s a tip though, boredom in childhood is ok. Not just ok, but actually good for them. With boredom comes great creativity. As parents, it’s not our job to fill every minute of our children’s days with activities and lessons. Children need independent playtime just as much as overworked exhausted mommas need it.
Worried your child needs to be learning at all times and solely doing educational activities? The truth is, play is invaluable to a child’s all-round development. The more you practice it, the more productive it becomes. It is crucial for verbal skills, brain development, focused attention, innovative thinking, and problem-solving.
Rules For Setting Up Independent Play
-Set up time every day where the child makes choices on what to play with and how
-Keep things simple and uncluttered, too many choices can be overwhelming
-Start small and for short intervals
-Set clear expectations (ex. you will have one hour of independent playtime and then I will play anything you want for 20 minutes.)
-Study your child’s interest and change out materials to play with accordingly (ex. my 4 year old really likes to play with real materials and act out daily life so her materials are old things from around the house that she plays with her dolls.)
-Tell your child you are closed right now and will be open when the time is up. Any time they come to ask something of you, you can tell them sorry “I’m closed now, be back in ___minutes”
-Try to buy open ended toys that can be used in many different ways. Light up electronic toys get old quickly
-Display toys so the child can see them all, not just in big baskets. toys should each have a spot so children know how and where to put them when they are done, makes clean up time much faster
-Rotate out toys every few months. If you see a toy is not being used as much retire it for a while and when it comes back out it will feel like a new toy all over again for the child
Independent Play Toy Options