This past week, I noticed how my husband really plays with our kids. He actually participates. With him, play time is scheduled- part of the after school routine. He is absolutely right to ensure playtime happens; we both do. I realized he models play to our kids so that they can play independently when they are with me, the less playful parent.
I have always held the belief that helping children play independently is a great way to instill confidence and cooperation (http://www.kidsbehaviour.co.uk/encouraging-co-operation-from-your-children.html) in them.
I do follow some loose rules to encourage them to be independent.In this over scheduled society, providing access to unadulterated independence is just what the doctor ordered.
-Get out of the TV room!
If you are like most families, your family room probably doubles as a playroom. However, if the tv is in there, chances are its on and the kids are watching. I avoid this by bringing some of the toys in a laundry basket to whatever other room I need to be in. They have no recourse but to play on their own, happily.
-No Schedule for once!
I leave one or two weekdays free and unfettered. Anything goes and most often that means the kids making forts, playing with pots and pans etc.
-Your smile is your only involvement
I stay hands off during their independent play unless they ask for me, need my help or get help. I do offer lots of smiles and praise for their independence. I also ask what the story line is if they are making up a story. I am simply an audience.
-Rotate those toys and make them accessible
My kids have easy access to most of their toys but I also have a secret stash I rotate out often.
Afterschool activities and free resources from SmartTutor.
Article By Nuria Almeida
Photo By Kelly Sue