Go Be A Kid! (Tips for Independent Play)

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Enter disclaimer text (These tips for independent play come from lessons I learned via Genius of Play.)


Every.Single.Day…we have to yell GO BE A KID to Arianna and Evan. I can be paying the bills, yet they’d rather be staring at me and claiming they are bored, oh so bored because life is oh so boring and it makes my Irish stir up. This week, instead of yelling, I am making a pact with my kids. They are going to go be a kid (aka Independent Play) for at least 60 minutes a day without parental intervention.


Back in July, I signed a pledge with the Genius of Play that I would help them reach their goal to “help guarantee 1,000,000 hours of pure fun (and beneficial) play this year” among American kids. Play is important because (according to Genius of Play), “through play, kids learn how to interact with others and develop skills critical for childhood development”.

Independent Play

So, how am I going to make sure my kids go be a kid this week? I’m going to encourage independent play! Genius of Play offers up some tips for Independent Play including:

Find toys that encourage open-ended play

Role-play toys (dress-up clothes, pretend food sets, cars, dolls, action figures, etc.), construction and craft materials (blocks and bricks, art supplies, etc.) and kids’ instruments are great for open-ended fun!


Start with shorter play periods of five minutes and work your way up to longer stretches of time. Remember that it’s actually okay for your kids to get bored – oftentimes they’ll get creative and find an exciting new way to play all on their own.

Take time to observe

Even if you’re not actively playing with your child, you can still watch! It’s important to make note of how successfully they’re playing on their own, what works and what doesn’t.

Independent Play
Source: thegeniusofplay.org

Ok. So I am not going to just yell that they need to go play. This mom is going to do the following this week to make play time successful:

  • I’ll be sure that they are aware of where the toys that encourage open-ended play are located in their rooms. They both have “Dress Up” totes in their rooms, but we probably could use a review of what’s in them because I’m not sure that it all fits any more.
  • Even though it isn’t necessarily called out in the tips from the Genius of Play, I’m going to set a timer for 5 minutes when they go off to play alone. If all is going well, I’ll stop by their rooms to praise them for playing on their own when it dings.
  • I’ll watch, but from a distance. My desk sits in a location that I can see into their rooms, so this is a bonus for me. I will get a little bit of work done and ensure that they are playing.

If I can do those three things all five weekdays this week, we’re sure to be yelling GO BE A KID a whole lot less. And just like anything in this parenting thing, there is still a lot more to learn when it comes to teaching kids how to play. The Genius of Play campaign is full of ideas to help YOU raise smarter, happier, healthier kids. Check them out at www.thegeniusofplay.org and on Facebook.

As I tell my kids…there’s not enough time to be a kid, and plenty of time to be an adult. Go enjoy it! And parents? It’s our second chance at being a kid, so go have fun, too!

What are your momfessions for getting your kids to play? Did you take the pledge to play? Tell us about it! 


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