December 07, 2018

7 Ways to Encourage Kids to Play Independently

I love playing with my kids but guess what, I don't have time to do it all day long. Between preparing meals, chores and working from home, I have other things that I am required to do through the day in addition to my favorite times through the day which is playing with the kiddos. Starting at a young age, I encouraged my kids to play independently. I read up a bunch on how independent play encourages creativity and imagination in children and loved the idea of that. Kids need to learn to work through boredom, not have an activity planned for them all the time. When they are left to their own devices, it is amazing to see what they come up with!

Here are my ideas for independent play that I do with my own children:

1. Childproof an area so it is safe for kids

I make my entire first floor safe for the kids so that I do not constantly have to worry that they are going to get into something like breaking a glass or falling down the stairs. We actually minimally use babyproofing gear except for 2 gates in our home. I like to teach my kids not to do things like open cupboards and get into things that they are not supposed to. My whole first floor is safe for my kids to play which helps me to worry much less that they're going to get into a container of blue paint...not that that happened to us yesterday after Adalyn left her paint out for Oliver...

2. Encourage singing, dancing and making music

Oliver is only 1 year old but he can hum to the beat of music so well. Adalyn is 4 and can sing so well. I love having musical instruments for the kids to get creative and make their own music. Both of my kids absolutely love music and dancing so this is a really fun way to encourage exercise, especially in the cold months.

I am so excited about the new Think and Learn Rocktopus™ from Walmart. It is an amazing toy for kids that keeps my kids busy for the longest time. It has different musical styles, different rhythms, instruments and more. It would make an amazing gift for a kiddo during the holiday season. My kids get creative with dancing, singing and playing music with this awesome toy. 

The Rocktopus™ encourages playing and learning at the same time which is perfect for my kid's ages. It has 15 different musical instruments that it plays and comes with 3 modes: music, games and math. Kids can make their own tunes, learn more about music and how different instruments sound.

3. Give them free time to choose what they want to do

Since Adalyn was about 3, I would ask her to choose an activity to do and she got to pick anything. I loved seeing the different ideas that she had when it wasn't me giving her a list of things to do. I recently went through and organized the kid's toys and made it so that they could find things easily to play with on their own such as this basket of trucks and tractors.

4. Have dress-up clothes

Dress-up is everything in my house! Adalyn loves to dress-up in "beautiful dresses" as she says. I get these at garage sales, mom-to-mom sales and local swap groups mostly for a few dollars each and she really uses her imagination when she is playing dress-up. It is awesome to see her in all different outfits and pretending to be different princesses.

5. Put supplies within reach

I recently got some plastic storage containers with drawers that hold all of the kid's crayons, markers, workbooks, paint, glitter glue, coloring books, etc. Having all of it down on Adalyn's level to reach really encouraged her to color on her own all the time. I can't even tell you how many times that I have walked in a room to find her coloring or painting without me even knowing about it!

6. Let them play in the backyard

In the summer, my daughter's favorite thing to do is to grab a big bowl and pick all of the ripe tomatoes. We have a lot so this keeps her busy for at least 20 minutes. We have a water table and a little swingset and both are great for using imagination and encouraging them to play on their own. Oliver loves playing in a toy car that he can ride in. In the fall, they can look for colorful leaves and whatever else they can think of. If I need to work, I bring my laptop out under our umbrella and get stuff done. Otherwise, I join right in with the kids.

7. Let them be

I find that when I say something like "Oliver, you're doing such a great job!", he stops playing and comes over right to me. Same with Adalyn. When the kids are engaged in playing with something, I try to back off and let them enjoy their working time. 

What are your favorite tips for encouraging kids to play independently?

This post is sponsored by Soapbox Influence. 

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