Independent Play For Young Children and Miniature Whales with Swords

“Dutchies are a type of Richshull”…if you’ve never seen one, imagine “a miniature whale” that fits in a two year old’s hands. They carry “little swords” and if you find yourself in a situation where one need’s rescuing, you transport it in a “wagon full of loacha water, not water.” They hail from the “land of Satcha.”

This is what my son told me this morning. His mind is starting to fill with wondrous imagination and I’m trying to keep up. He tells me these stories and then gets frustrated when I can’t perfectly repeat the characters’ names. I can’t wait for him and his brother to be kings of their first fort that they build on their own. They are almost 3 and 18 months old. The older one is coming out of the destruction phase and the younger one it entering it. Soon, the stars should align and I will have the first magic sibling age combination (at least that’s what a lovely mom told me at the doctor’s office this past week).

I’m trying really hard to provide them with a balance of independent play time and engagement.  My husband and I discuss this all the time. How much time without us the right amount? Should I be engaging them every minute of the day and not wasting a moment to teach? Should they be left to figure things out on their own to build their confidence?  My boys play a lot on their own. I suggest play for them by pulling out the Magna-Tiles and by opening the box of Playstix.  I set up play for them, like a teddy bear picnic or coloring paper and utensils. They mostly do the rest, with a little guidance from me here and there. We read many books together throughout the day, but usually at nap time and bed time. Otherwise, they “read” the books to themselves or each other. We dance together everyday but the majority of our daily activities involve real life tasks. They help with the laundry and vacuuming  and they always supervise me on chairs during meal preparation.

I want them to know that the most complete toys they will ever have are their minds.

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”Albert Einstein

I’m definitely guilty of accumulating too many plastic toys, with one function, that bog down our space and I’m slowly trying to purge. Even after getting rid of half of them, it looks like Toys R’ Us got sucked up in a tornado and landed in my living room, every night.

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Who knows if we are doing it right? I don’t. I’m still conflicted when they play on their own and my husband and I catch up over a (0k, maybe 2 or 3) cup of Joe, around our table, on a lazy Saturday morning. Although, I want to spend all my time creating adaptable and capable boys, I feel that independent play is necessary for building strong young men that are content and satisfied in their own perfect company. It also allows time for them to take care of each other and manifest their brotherly friendship

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What are your thoughts on independent play for young children? What happens in your home?

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