Language Play: Strategies for Encouraging Independent Play in Summer Months

Independent Play

Fostering independent play this summer with icon or photo schedules for the day.  Show “alone” activities as well as activities children will do with others. Add a clock icon for each activity that shows the time these things will occur. You can designate an “alone” activity with a star or use color coding…

Independent play is a topic that had come up twice this month. Both a parent and a pre-school teacher asked me for ideas for children who couldn’t play independently. These children were only able to play if an adult was involved. Unfortunately, these adults were either dealing with other children or having to get things accomplished, like making dinner. Sound familiar? Dependent kids are especially a problem when they are home for the summer. A parent can only set up so many activities each day!

Of course, folks of a certain age, like me, remember our summers as total freedom. No one worried about our independent play; we were quite capable of playing alone or with friends, and no adults ever knew where we were except during mealtimes. We were busy all the time and we learned how to solve our own problems in a messy kid way. It was an adult-based world and we all tried to survive to become grown-ups. I remember seeing a parade. The next day, I organized all the kids on the block to take rhythm instruments from my toy rhythm set and march up and down the block. I carried the flag and led the parade. I felt like anything an adult could do, my friends and I could do. Here is an interesting article on the subject of freedom to ponder:  Freedom to Learn: The roles of play and curiosity as foundations for learning.

Now back to 2013, and the problem of helping parents and teachers to foster independent play…

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