Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Self-Entertaining for Kids


A commonly asked question I get is: How do you get your kids to play on their own?

I've learned that how I set up my house greatly influences my kid's ability to play on their own.

1. I have found that cutting TV watching to a bare minimum, best if NONE, leads to so much more self-starting, creative play for my kid's.

2. Set it up, and give a couple minutes. I put these trains in a little line and helped Patrick make a track and then walked away. He played for a good hour.

3. The fewer toys, and the more organized, the better chance at making it work. Huge amounts of toys are overwhelming. You know how you feel when you look at 500 choices of fabric, or icecream, or shoes? Sometimes it's easier to walk away. They feel the same.

4. Bait and switch. Rotate toys maybe once a week or every other week. Even ONE "new" building set will fascinate for hours. If I had Duplos out, I put away the Lincoln Logs.

5. Be in the same room. Or not. Depending on the age and your child. Sometimes it's best for me to be out of sight. Other times if I just sit in the room I find my 2 year old content as long as he knows I'm nearby.

6. Get a "project" started with siblings involved.  I know Patrick LOVES to play along side Andrew or  Matthew.

20 comments :

  1. Yep, agree with all of them. Oh and I'm seriously impressed you've got such a large Thomas set!

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  2. My two year old loves to play with markers which is obviously not the best little person activity. But if I give him four markers and a piece of newsprint I can get a good 30 mins or so to fold laundry. Of course he has to be in site and reminded "markers are for paper". Why does he love to color on the door so much :) ?

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  3. Sarah,

    You will LOOOOVE the book "Simplicity Parenting". It will only confirm what you already know and live but it's a great read. Good post.

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  4. Amen! I agree with all of your suggestions especialyy #1. We have a small house and I've deliberately limited our toy collection b/c I dislike clutter; but it also has the benefit of making sure the toys are used. I would also add versatile toys like Duplos/Legos/Lincoln logs which can be used for a variety of things rather than the plastic talking truck which only does ONE thing.

    And on those sick/whiny days there's always the bathtub which really seems to alter the crankiest of kiddos. I can always sit and make lists (and promptly lose them).

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  5. Great ideas! I really need to declutter the toy room. You're right! There is so much that they can't see what is right in front of them.

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  6. Thanks so much for this encouraging post! We are currently simplifying our kids toy situation. I've been doing the rotating thing for years - that works wonders!

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  7. I agree with everything you said especially the tv part. We don't have cable or even rabbit ears we limit our couch potato time to 2 movies a week as a family. I want healthy, active and imaginitive kids. TV is such a waste of time and money.

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  8. My kids LOVE to make playdough....if we make a batch...they will play for hours!!! Messy, of course, but well worth it if I have a lot to get done :) And if I just give them cookie cutters and kitchen items...they are in heaven! No need to buy the barber shop playdough guy...mainly because I seem to be the one that has to pick out the playdough for hours! And LEGOS, of course, man....I hate stepping on those things, but my kids will build for hours! My 5 yr old is sadly out of the Thomas phase :( I miss those little faces :)

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  9. Am I crazy? I would've sworn this post was in my reader last week. I am going crazy.

    Love your tips. It is true, for kids the less they have, the more they play. My kids can't even begin to play with too much stuff and too many options.

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  10. You are so right! just SEEING those trains lined up...makes me want to sit down and play!! Great tips. You always have the best things to say!

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  11. I so agree but sometimes one forgets. Yesterday I set up a Geo Trac that took about 5 minutes and I probably didn't hear anything from my little ones for 45 min. I got a lot accomplished. I also find if I read about 5 books aloud they eventually wander away and find something to do on there own.

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  12. Thanks... I needed that. As I sat reading this post Cooper, my 4 year old, whined... what should do I now?" In general, this kills me... so many toys and nothing to do? Really? Now, I plan on purging... less toys the better. Yes!!

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  13. cute photo! And I am all for shutting that darn tv off!!

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  14. Agree. 100%. With all of it. My 3-year-old and 6-year-old have had more fun this morning with a couple of blankets for a tent and a lot of imagination than they could ever have with TV.

    Kids are super-creative if you just let them be.

    Mel at themeaparty.com

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  15. i completely agree, and try to do this. i still need to separate the toys, so we're only pulling out a few at a time, and can switch out for "new" ones later. but we're getting there.

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  16. Thanks for this. I will be purging and stashing toys away, pronto!

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  17. That is quite the collection - I notice that the toys that encourage creativity are the long-lasting ones. The toys that are loud and noisy and you push a button and they do everything for you are forgotten about in a week!

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  18. It's the Costco secret. Fewer choices equals more purchases! Time to edit the toy section at this location : )

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  19. great ideas - I find that it does make such a diffrence with the longevity of the play if I get them 'started' and then slip away after a bit.

    I'd love to have a 'toy rotation' in place. My mother has been director her own preschool for over 25 years now, so I've seen that modeled first hand. My only hang up is I don't have any space in our small home outside their rooms to store out-of-rotation toys....hhhmmmm

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  20. Amen! I love your new blog header. I'm also still so in love with your blog. You are amazing, which is why I just gave you an award on my blog. Thanks again!

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