13 months old
There are a few different kinds of play time according to Babywise (here are also links to what a Babywise mom did for the various play times): structured play time, free play time, Independent play time
Structured play is where the family member/nanny leads in the play time, exploring something new together, giving demonstrations, or early “lessons” around a particular skill for a particular time. Free play is letting the child chose what to play with and for how long while the family member/nanny is present. Independent play is where the child must, well, play by themselves and use their own imagination. They have no outside input or interaction that might direct what their mind comes up with because the family member/nanny is not readily visible. (This is where a video monitor is handy.)
I like this post describing independent play from a Babywise mom. The highlighted benefits of developing independent play time are:
- Mental Focusing Skills
- Sustained Attention Span
- Self-Play Adeptness
I had read that what preschool teachers wished kids would learn by the time they start school, wasn’t their ABC’s or 123’s, but how to sit still and pay attention. So, I actively started this with Nessness at about 13 months. I would place her in the playpen with her toys and then set the timer for 10 minutes. Initially she’d stand there looking over the rail and just cry. But I wouldn’t pick her up until the timer went off so that she would understand it’s not her crying making me pick her up, it’s the timer indicating she’s done. By the third day she would just protest a little but quickly sit down and start to play. If she played really well for the entire period then we’d increase her time in the playpen by five minutes the next day. If she’s having a particularly cranky day (teething or didn’t sleep well) then I might reduce the time on the timer so that she still hears it go off before I come get her. Now she’s up to 45 min of happy, independent play time. Which, I must say, is EXCELLENT for running about getting domestic duties done. When the timer goes off, she jumps up and yells in excitement as you come get her. It’s pretty cute.
What I have to work on however, is getting her to clean up her toys at the end of independent play. There was a period where she started throwing toys out of the play pen so I made her pick each one up and put it back into the pen. She has since stopped throwing toys out. Next is to actually tidy her toys inside the pen by putting things back into their containers.
As for the type of toys I’ve got in there…nothing battery operated so that any entertainment is solely from her imagination. There’s a bag of mega blocks for her to eventually learn how to build things with, and so that all the pieces are contained in a small area. I’ve also got a soft photo album with pictures of family…she really likes looking through it and pointing at faces. A couple small stuffies and some rattles. There’s probably too much in there now that I’ve listed it out…ha ha. I’ll thin some out for use with Blanket Time…my next baby training exercise. Stay tuned!