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Monday, October 28, 2013

Independent Play

Screen-capture from the surveillance camera

There have been many insightful articles or blog posts regarding the dangers of too much screen time for toddlers and methods of cultivating independent or creative play in children through regular unstructured time for themselves. I'm a firm believer of such philosophies and ever since my kids were born, I've minimise their exposure to technological gadgets. 

Our TV is mostly for display purposes and will only be used on special occasions when we have guests such as Christmas parties or birthday parties. They only have access to things like iphones, ipads or even the television sparingly when we visit relatives. Even then, we seek our relatives' understanding and implore them to refrain from doing so. Thankfully, most of them are enlightened people and will stop their well-meaning but damaging actions. 

I find that boredom is really good for children. If they are not allowed to feel bored and are constantly stimulated by adults and IT, they will never learn how to be creative and find true joy in playing among themselves. My fondest memories of my childhood were the games my brother and I invented and played by ourselves: pretending that our double-decker bed was a treehouse and using a bucket to transport toys up and down the beds; utilising towels and blankets to make costumes and imagining that we were various characters such as warriors or the grocers. 

Many may find it tough to keep children out of their hair unless they resort to gadgets. On the contrary, if you simply teach them different ways to play with their toys and give them gradually lengthened time of being alone with toys or/and their sibling(s) within a safe and confined environment, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that they quickly learn how to think up of brilliant ways to keep themselves gainfully occupied. Let's also not be too quick to intervene if they quarrel. Give them basic rules and let them have a chance to sort things out before adults step in to referee. They will surely come to you for help if they encounter a stalemate.

It may stretch our own creativity and patience in the early years to teach them independent play. However, if we keep at it, scenarios like ours will become possible: the older children play peacefully together while Joram watches on, giving Joshua the time to do his work and allowing me the space to blog about this.

Okay, I think I hear Jaide calling for me. Gotta go now! :)

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