A worthy read on independence . . .

A worthy read on independence . . .

Just wanted to pass on a link to this fantastic New York Times article, Now’s a Good Time to Teach Your Kids to Play on Their Own by Kate Rope. I just realized it’s been sitting in my inbox, but figured it’s as good a time as any to share! During our parent meeting, we discussed the challenge of knowing how often and when to intervene in your child’s play. More to the point, many of us are feeling a need to engage or entertain our children all day. Truth be told, it’s highly likely they are needier than usual, so there’s that! Don’t be hesitant to give them a little extra at this time (we’re all needing a little more right now), but for those times when you need a moment OR you’re noting that they are needing some extra enrichment, don’t be afraid to take baby steps towards encouraging their continued independence.

With a few tools, experts say, we can teach our kids how to play more independently, which will reward them with lifelong benefits. “Independent play encourages time management, executive function and organizational skills, and emotional and physical awareness and regulation,” said Dana Rosenbloom, a parent and child educator in Manhattan. “All skills that help us be successful individuals as adults.” And, in the process, we can make our lives right now just a bit easier.

This article doesn’t mention Montessori, yet it offers advice I feel is very aligned with the Montessori approach and advice which may be helpful during this crisis. I will warn that you should read it with a grain of salt as it seems to be aimed towards older children. Remember, that two year olds have only just begun to practice their independence and may not be ready for extended periods of independent play. The article does, however, have some valuable nuggets and good food for thought.

Namely, it encourages parents to employ the following, which are all concepts we’ve shared with you at some point:

  • Start with connection. Most importantly, remember that connection is paramount. Spending more time with them might seem contrary to our goal of fostering independence. The key is making sure it’s quality time. Offering your full attention may help fill their cup more effectively, thus, freeing up your time later! 
  • Start small. Remember independence for a two year old will look different than that of a five year old. Start with five minutes and build from there.
  • Create invitations to play. The idea of creating invitations to play or “strewing” mentioned in the article is basically the prepared environment. Remember that setting up your space appropriately may help alleviate your need to assist or engage your child all day long!
  • Make room for mess. Sensory play is key for this age group!
  • Build a movement zone. Movement as well. If you can’t get outside, get creative or refer to our Get Moving checklist in the Drive for inspiration!
  • Build connection into play. Look for opportunities to keep filling their cup throughout the day. Sometimes all it takes is a wink or a thumbs up to say, “I see you.”

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