Friday, April 13, 2012

the art of independent play...

Having River home for two weeks of school holidays I've noticed each time he comes up to me in the kitchen or while I'm at the computer and asks, "Mum can you play with me?" My typical response is, "When I've finished {insert domestic task}", or "Why don't you play with (brother) Sol?" Most times River replies, "I want to play with you". Flattering perhaps. Fun to play sometimes. A tad frustrating when said tasks are mounting up, or creative writing rhythm flowing.

Is the art of children playing by themselves disappearing? Is it something that happens naturally or is it something to be taught? My husband Pete thinks us modern day folk who live the 'nuclear family' way have it all wrong, that children living in community, living in villages have each other to play with and the domestic 'load' is shared amongst the adults rather than falling to one person. True perhaps. But at this moment in my family life I think the art of independent play is both a natural occurrence and one that is taught (read encouraged).
There are a few ways I encourage independent play, the one I have most fun with is when the boys have gone to sleep I set up something for them to wake up to. That might be building a town out of their wooden blocks, setting up their toy cars, placing their teddy bears on a blanket for a breakfast picnic. I love telling them that fairies did it while they were sleeping, of course with River turning six in a couple of months he tells me "I know you did it mum". He still enjoys the fun of it though. I like doing this in the morning because it is a fun way to start the day and most times (as long as they both don't want the same car/teddy/book/crayon), it initiates them playing while I get the day started.
This article by American mum Shelly who has worked in Montessori schools and as a nanny, includes inspiring ideas for encouraging independent play - love the title: 'How to get time for yourself - Set your kids up for independent play'. 
What play is happening in your house? Best tips for keeping everyone entertained? 
Happy weekend to all. Hope there's sunshine in your heart wherever you are.

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