We know that young children need to learn how to entertain themselves. Not only because mom and dad are not always free for play time (there are chores that need doing!), but letting kids deal with boredom by themselves nurtures and develops a handful of skills. Independent play builds confidence, critical thinking, and creativity, said psychologist Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards.
All children have the potential for independent play, says Janet Lansbury, parenting adviser and host of the popular podcast Respectful Parenting. There are a few parenting tricks to encourage your child to play solo (you need to avoid stepping in but also stay responsive, for example), but your child needs a safe play area and activities to keep him interested and engaged. Here are a few ideas that were a hit for Smart Parenting moms this 2017:
Toddler 1. Busy board
A busy board has all kinds of household ware, like locks, switches, handles and dials, that kids can tinker with. Margaret Sarmenta, a DIY mom, calls it her son's “iPad.” Stash it as one of the toys in your child's play area or bring it along with you when you head out with the family. You can choose to make one for your child, or ask Margaret to make one for you. Yup, she takes orders! Check out her Instagram page at @moglycreations.
2. Five-minute prep activities If you're not following Busy Toddler on Instagram (@busytoddler) yet, you definitely should! It’s a treasure trove of easy-to-prep play activities for toddler and preschoolers. They make use of what you already have at home and they can be educational. Check them out:
Gather the materials your child will need and do a few trinkets together first. Then, take a step back and let her make more on her own. Don’t correct or give instructions ("Hindi ganyan, anak. Do it this way"). “Parents fill in the blanks too often. Even when they think they know all the right answers, adults need to give their children the permission to have their own ideas,” Dr. Hirsh-Pasek told Parents.
4. Printable worksheets Worksheets are a great way to keep your child busy while supplementing his learning. They're available in bookstores, but there are great places to find free ones online as well. Get your child as much colorful and fun writing materials as he wants, print a few pages of worksheets, and let him work. When he's done, check his progress, and give rewards (stickers or stamps). Here are some we like:
5. Intramuros: The Walled City Cut-and-Build For kids who love to make things with their hands, this is the perfect educational activity to keep them busy — for an hour or more! Intramuros: The Walled City (Php295 at Pumplepie Books) is a paper cut-out model designed to be taken apart and assembled piece by piece. It's a great gift for siblings of different ages and fun way to make learning about the city's history fun.