Games for unath­letic kids

3–4 Years

Parents (USA) - - Contents - By ASH­LEY PHILLIPS

Ease into it.

In­stead of join­ing in, sit silently be­side your child as she plays. Once she’s ab­sorbed in what she’s do­ing, move to an­other part of the room. In­de­pen­dent play doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean your child has to be alone. How long she’s able to play on her own de­pends in part on her age too. While a 12-month-old may last for only five min­utes, a 24-month-old may be ca­pa­ble of ten min­utes of solo play.

Set the stage.

Once your tod­dler is hap­pily play­ing on his own, try not to hover or specif­i­cally di­rect his play (“That’s a truck—you can drive it around on the floor”). How­ever, to en­cour­age in­de­pen­dence, you can help your kid set up a pre­tend-play sce­nario, such as “driv­ing” his toy truck to Grandma’s house. Ask ques­tions about the car ride there and what will hap­pen once his truck gets to her house.

Pro­vide fun props.

Pay at­ten­tion to the stuff your kid is nat­u­rally drawn to. If she’s al­ways try­ing to get into your beauty sup­plies, give her a clean pow­der puff and a brush so she can mimic what you do. Of­fer plenty of other open-ended items like blocks, pots and pans, and card­board boxes. But limit the quan­tity of toys you keep out at once, as tod­dlers can be­come over­whelmed when pre­sented with too many choices. Stash­ing some items in a closet and then rein­tro­duc­ing them is a sim­ple way to stim­u­late your tod­dler’s in­ter­est—and in­spire her to play with them for an ex­tended pe­riod of time on her own.

Sources: Linda Acredolo, PH.D., coau­thor of Baby Minds: Brain-build­ing Games Your Baby Will Love; Kathy Hirsh-pasek, PH.D., coau­thor of Ein­stein Never Used Flash Cards; Ge­or­gene Troseth, PH.D., as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity, in Nashville.

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