Both boys have done independent play time since they were very small. This is a concept from Babywise. I started at about 3 months with Tukker in a pack n play, for 5 min(Brekkon a little later). Then slowly progressed up to 45 minutes by 18 months and a bigger space. By the time the boys were 2 they would play in their room for 1 hour in the mornings that we were home. The benefits to room-time include, mental focusing skills, sustained attention span, creativity, and self-play adeptness. When they have time to play by themselves I notice that they get along better with each other and friends too. The most important aspect of this time is that they are learning to focus and play with the things they have.
Room-time has made it very easy to transition to what I am calling quiet center's. Quiet centers are replacing our nap time.
I have 4 centers(each about 30 minutes):
The boys pick 5 books they would like to read/look at and I give them one activity to do after they finish their books such as a stack of puzzles, workbench constructing train tracks, legos, magnet toys, or blocks. I choose construction activities because they build problem solving skills, creativity and are linked with better math skills. I set the timer for an hour.Then I tell them that after they hear the bell they can play with the toys I have chosen and set out either in a basket or in a corner on the floor. I let them play 30 minutes after the bell rings and then they come down stairs for a show. We limit the TV that the boys watch, so its a great reward at the end for doing quiet centers quietly. Today was Brekkon's first day to do quiet center's and I was so impressed he only came out once to ask to get another book. He will be set up in the guest room until his room gets put back together from the overflowing toilet.
Tukker doesn't like to draw much but he does like the dry erase book and it's a good quiet center thing for him to do on his own because I don't think I want to let Brekkon loose with a marker yet!
These are some of the toys I set out for Brekkon today. When I peeked in we was putting the shape in as he said "oval".
Here he was pointing out the exclamation point, taught by his Aunt Minni. Now when we read to him and we don't say a word with LOTS of excitement that ends with exclamation point he always tells us how to say it.
Yesterday we were given a very cool set of wooden train tracks from a friend. I love that we have a place to keep these for him to build. We have a fun train table downstairs but we glued the tracks down. He has already had a lot of fun constructing paths, bridges and roads with them. His Grammy, the crazy train person will be proud!!