Day 22 - Independent play
How does your child play?
Do you like to present provocations, interesting jumping-off points for exploration? Or do you join in and guide the activity throughout?
As modern parents we're sometimes afraid to trust our instincts. We've been told that we have to be with our children all the time, that they need us to educate them 24/7. But here's a secret: that’s not true!
Giving our children more attention - and buying them more stuff - won't solve our so-called problems. These problems (boredom, misbehaviour) are arguably the fault of the toys we give and the environments we put our children into. When was the last time your child misbehaved on a walk through the woods? Or got bored playing at the beach?
Your child is not the problem.
But modern family life is much more likely to take place indoors, where there is less to inspire.
It’s not that our children lack creativity. But ideas are like a muscle, they have to be trained.
The problem is that the environments and experiences we offer our children fail to stimulate them.
So what to do?
The answer is independent play.
Done right, your child will become a creative self-starter - and need much less input from you.
Here are some tips to get started:
- A diet of good books and rich experiences will give your child a well of ideas to draw on when playing.
- Reduce the number of toys available and make room for boredom.
- Reduce distractions. Avoid background television noise; keep marauding toddlers out of the room.
- Praise your child for their independence and their accomplishments.
- Offer open-ended toys and materials that promote exploration and discovery.
Independent play done right is engrossing and leads to new understandings. Children can't have enough of it.
For more inspiration, take a look at our guide to independent play. Download the free 42-page sample from our home page.
Here's the rest of the series: