Encouraging Independent Play at home

Encouraging Independent Play at home

The Game of Choice is a brilliant thing to add to your child's daily routine. It teaches children about personal choice, expressing their will in a positive way and sticking to a task. It encourages independent play so it is also a helpful tool for parents who need a short break. The only thing you need to play is a timer (you can use your phone), simple equipment and toys you have in your house and a set of activity cards... don't worry... we are giving those away for free here.


The Game of Choice

When trying to get through the day at home with your children, having some sort of structure can be very helpful... if not essential.

I usually do not run a strict routine with my three kids as I am more of a “go with the flow” kind of girl. Sometimes that leads to beautiful imaginative play, but other times it just leads to a whole lot of whining and at its worst, fighting and screaming.

When everything is turning into chaos I often turn to a game that I learned when I used to work as a teacher at a Kindergarten. I called it “The game of Choice”. It's not much of a game though but more of a structure for independent play - but calling it a game just makes the kids like it more. 

You definitely do not have to wait for things to go berserk - this can be a brillant thing to add to your child's daily routine and it teaches children about personal choice, expressing their will in a positive way and sticking to a task. 

This can also be useful if you need a bit of time for yourself as the game is about encouraging independent play. The game takes about half an hour and after it is over there is usually a total shift in energy and the kids are much more calm and content. 


How we play the game

The Game of Choice starts with choosing activities from a few set options.

We use choice cards or activity cards with descriptive pictures on them for each activity. 

What you need: A timer, activity cards and some simple equipment to match

Choosing activity cards

The kids begin by sitting down at the table and we have what we call a choice meeting.

I choose four to five cards and lay them out and explain what they can choose. 


Get your Lulla doll Activity Cards here for free


Sometimes when my kids are in a bad mood they don't want to choose anything but then I offer to choose for them… they are usually quick to refuse that offer. 

If more than one child is playing you should decide if you are going to allow more than one to choose the same activity or if they can play together. Sometimes they miss their top choice if they are not first in line to choose. There has to be a line and you have to be careful to rotate that line (oohhh the intricacies of raising siblings).

After they choose an activity I help them get settled in their places and get the equipment they need and then set the timer that rings - usually to 20 minutes. Choose time limits that fit with your child's age and personality. When the timer rings the activity is over and it also works as a prompt to clean up. 

The game has to have a beginning and an end and sticking to your choice is very important. Wandering out of the area or doing something else is not allowed. Occasionally if my kids are restless and unhappy with their choice I let them pick a new activity for the remaining time. 

Painting Lulla doll pictures

Before you start

I recommend preparing the setup and explaining the game to the kids when they are in a good and relaxed mood. You can show your children all the activity cards, the allocated spaces for each activity and the equipment that goes along with it. Keep the first sessions short (a few minutes) and enjoyable. 

The power of repetition and structure 

You should choose an allocated space for each activity and have tools and equipment ready. Try to keep it very similar every time, as children thrive on structure. 

My children already know this game as it’s used in both the kindergarten and the school for the older ones and it is very helpful as the power of repetition has already been built for me.

With this familiar setup they are quick to settle in and start playing, are calmer and more likely to play independently and stick with their chosen activity. I also love that when they hear the timer ring in the end they just immediately start cleaning up… and believe me - they are usually not so keen on tidying up. 

Girl playing in her room

Encourage and support  

I encourage them to play independently. If they need help I try to help them quickly and use few words. When children are getting used to this new structured play it can be helpful for them if you are in the same room or close by but doing your own thing. My suggestion is picking a simple task like tidying up or light reading. This is something that seems pretty boring to my kids and this also gives me the change to (secretly) watch them and give them small compliments and positive reinforcement. I definitely do not recommend that you watch television, or use your phone or something that will distract them and/or seems more exciting then what they are doing. 

We usually roll on the same simple choices but once in a while I spice it up and add a “special occasion choice” that requires more effort on my part, for example playing with water or baking. 

Did I mention that we are giving away 12 Lulla doll Activity cards, hand drawn by me and inspired by my kid’s favorite activities and our followers’ wishes?


Lulla doll Activity cards 

The cards include pictures of these activities:

  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Listening to a story
  • Clay/Play Dough
  • Obstacle course
  • Dancing
  • Drawing
  • Building blocks
  • Baking (for my youngest, this means playing in her toy kitchen)
  • Dress up
  • Water fun
  • Yoga (they follow tutorials for kids)

You can also use the activity cards in many other ways, for example as visual routine cards. You could also mix them up and draw one activity to play, use them as rewards, or to color. 

You can download the pictures here in US letter size for your kids to color. 

Activity cards - building blocks and clay making

I am planning on drawing more activity cards soon. Please get in touch if you have a special request for an activity you would like for me to draw. 

 

Best wishes for lots of joyful playing... and a little bit of quiet time for mommy and daddy.

Eyrún <3
Founder of RoRo and designer of Lulla doll

Eyrún and Freyja playing outside

 

 

lulla doll sleep aid

Lulla doll has helped thousands of children

✔️Falling asleep
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and so much more…

The Lulla doll is a multi-awarded baby sleep aid suitable from birth and beyond. It imitates closeness with its soft feel and soothing sounds of real-life breathing and heartbeat. Lulla's unique design is based on scientific research that shows how closeness improves sleep and wellbeing.

Gentle and soothing solution based on mother nature. Integrate Lulla doll into your baby’s sleep routine and use it for comfort on the go. For babies under a year old, place the Lulla doll outside of the sleep area. The natural sounds will soothe your baby and bring the comforting feeling of co-sleeping. Older children love to cuddle and bond with Lulla. It has helped thousands with sleep related challenges and to reduce anxiety and give comfort.




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