Sunday

Opinions on Independent Play?

opinion 2 I'm curious... Nannies, do you give your charges time for independent play throughout the day? If you are working in a home with a stay or work-at-home parent (or there is a nanny cam in your presence), do you feel pressured to constantly stimulate your charges (to not appear like a slacker to the parents) though you feel they benefit otherwise? Parents, what is your take on this? Do you believe nannies should allow for individual play or constant stimulation?


16 comments:

Northern Nanny said...

I believe that as a childcare provider we are expected to use wise judgment in balancing interactive and independent play. we are in so many ways these children's teachers and learning to play independently is vital for children's growth and development. This does not mean we in any way neglect a child or let them play unsupervised, but there are ways around engaging the child's every move. I am in a nanny share, and 1 parent stays home, and the other family both parents work, I don't believe there is a camera in either situation, but you never know. I have never been questioned on this topic, but if i were I would have no problem explaining why it is important for kids to have a balance of different types of play on a daily basis. It is a philosophy I have that I won't waiver on, and finding families that match your child care philosophies is very important.

RBTC said...

i worked for a family that would not let the boy ever ever watch tv- i found this out when the minx pointed to tv over and over, i turned it on chanel 8 and his father treated me like i killed the poor kid

the mother did not work but was always in the home/out/coming back

she and the father expected every second to hear me singing/ talking /story telling - every second - and they would listen on the baby monitor as they were home all the time. No down time.

The kid was awesome - even he would look at me funny like - why are you jabbering?
i would try to get away - take the child across the street to watch builders - the mom would follow us screaming because i brought his red hat instead of blue.

i got out of there and never told them why - they were actually very nice people - no other agency would deal with them and they tipped me frequently

my business took off and i started making 5 times the money

nycmom said...

Yes, independent play is important, but it needs to be age-appropriate. It also, to some degree, needs to be guided. For example, my 3yo might play blocks alone for 15 minutes. If I see he is getting bored and whiny, it's time to either join him or change the toy to something new. It's all about context. I certainly do not expect or want my nanny to constantly stimulate my kids.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I could have written this myself! I am currently a Nanny for an absolutely adorable 2 1/2 yr old who is the light of my life! The parents and I get along well and the pay is good. However, my job is very exhausting. I work 9 hrs a day, 5x wk and this child wants me constantly interacting w/her. If I have to eat, I only can eat when she is eating. She follows me into the bathroom and tells me to "hurry up." When I try to do my chores, she clings on to me and whines. I am constantly talking/singing to her, reading her stories (I read about 35 stories a day..no kidding!), and doing puzzles and making crafts w/her. For some reason she doesn't nap at all and when I suggest we lay down for 45 minutes of "quiet time" she begins to whine. This job is starting to wear me down and I am contemplating seeking a new position. Thank God both parents work outside the home and are never there, but it still is hard. I encourage her to flip through a picture book by herself or work on a puzzle while I fold laundry or load the dishwasher, but I am always met w/ a NO!! If I leave the room only for a sec, she screams for me to come back. I do notice, though, that when she is left alone for even a minute, she comes running to me w/a look of terror written on her face and hugs me.

I have also worked w/parents in the home and they usually are listening at all times so I feel compelled to interact constantly w/their child. This is specifically why I hate working w/parents in the home. I have had parents even tell me not to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and instead sing "Wheels on the Bus" or tell me to read a specific book again since it is their child's favorite. I did have one parent tell me to encourage independent play, but since she was in the home working nearby, I felt weird because if I was sitting nearby and she just happened to walk in at that moment (which always happens you know...), she may think I must have been like that for the last hour.

Yes, I think independent play is necessary for all children in order to thrive. They need to learn to entertain themselves and not rely on others to do so. Believe me, I wish I could hire a clown sometimes to make balloon animal shapes for me when I feel ill, but I don't have such a luxury at my disposal.

It is important though if you do encourage independent play, to be nearby at all times. Sure, parents do not always sit by their child when their child is playing, but we are the NANNIES and have more liability issues involved here. A younger child should be closely supervised so they do not put any small objects into their mouths or knock something over which may fall on them. An older child can play on his own for a determined amount of time, but the Nanny should still be focused on him or her and not use the time to update her Facebook status or text her BF.

TC said...

I felt like that as well but what I do is set the kids up with something to play with, be it cars or puzzles or dolls and when they are playing by themselves that's when I do chores, like clean up the kitchen or throw a load of clothes in the washer. That way we are both busy and I don't feel weird just sitting on the couch watching them play by themselves.

Kate S. said...

I work with a 3 year old little boy who I am head over heels for. He obviously would have me play with him every second of the day if he had it his way, but I will do an activity with him/play with him for a while and then once he becomes engaged in his cars, trains, or puzzles I will let him play by himself for 10-15 minutes while I unload the dishwasher or something and then come back and join, all the while being close by so that I can check on him and get to him quickly if needed. I've even had the parents request this, so I'm lucky that DB & MB understand the importance of independent play.

justthenanny said...

I def. encourage my 3 y.o. charge to play independently. It wasn't until about age 2 where she could do this for more than a few minutes. If I set her up with an activity, or tell her I have something to do she is happy to play on her own for awhile. Sometimes she gets so interested in what she's doing she'll play on her own for almost an hour. Sometimes she even tells me she doesn't want me to play, she is busy! We of course play together a lot, but her parents, too, have encouraged independent play.

canadian-nanny said...

I have found that if I give the kids (2 and 4) the undivided, engaged and enthusiastic attention that they so desperately crave for oh, maybe 20 minutes - half an hour, that's enough to "fill them up" and then they can enjoy playing alone for a while. If I (or the parents) are too busy to give them even a measly 15 minutes, the girls will be clingy, whiny, and uncooperative.

NervousNanny said...

I work with 15 month old twins. Lately, I've been trying to sit back and watch a bit more. They do need to learn how to entertain themselves, and I need to let them. On top of all that, I know that their parents cannot give them constant attention that I do. There are only ever brief times I'm not in the room (bathroom), so I'm always there when they need me.
When parents are home, or even when their cleaners are there, I feel the need to constantly stimulate. I think it's more because of the added pressure of people judging me.
Independent play is important, if for no other reason than they cannot always have others playing with them.

Lacey said...

Nervous Nanny, I agree that when there are other adults in the home, you feel like you are being judged so therefore you do your very best at all times. It is very draining to always have the feeling that you are being watched and evaluated, etc. I personally hate working in homes where there will be another adult present.

I do encourage independent play, but in windows...for instance, I might start off a child for 10-15 min, then later on add add'l minutes as they become more comfortable. While they are playing, I may load the dishwasher, fold the laundry or read a magazine. I ALWAYS make sure I am in ear and eye shot of the child and never leave the room unless I need to use the restroom.

Vanessa said...

There's a time for everything.


Kids need independent play as much as they need to be stimulated. Over-stimulation can wear them out, so they also need a break from it. They also need to learn how to entertain themselves.

Sarah said...

I care for 3 children under 3yrs old, 1 of whom is my daughter. MB is on maternity leave so soon there will be 4! I firmly believe in independent play. Even my baby daughter gets independent play time. the boys have blossomed (MB and DB's words) since I started and are more able to play alone. How long depends on the children's attitudes / mood, the activity etc.

MissMannah said...

I absolutely believe in independent play and exploration. I actually don't believe in such a thing as "age-appropriate" independent play either because every child's temperament is different. I think being alone gives a chance for the child to develop an imagination, even an infant.

I'm not a nanny right now but I would always give my former charges plenty of alone time, but I would stay within sight so they wouldn't get nervous. My 3 year old charge would play independently and with his 1 year old baby sister (in intervals) for up to an hour. It would sometimes get almost boring for me to just supervise but I wouldn't interrupt because they didn't need me to.

Another nanny... said...

I think that independent play is important for the children but as a nanny (as oppossed to a parent) I feel as though I am neglecting my duties if I am not constantly interacting with the children. My solution is to fold laundry, do dishes or prepare meals while the children play independently (while supervised). I also will try to set of one child with an activity and then spend 1:1 time with the other child.

Nicki Babysits said...

I was a "nanny" to my nieces for three years... the youngest was a newborn when I started and was 3 at the end. With the youngest one, she was SO dependent on being entertained by me, that I started having to actually schedule time for her to play on her own. I'd have to take her to the play room and say, "Now its time to play with your toys for a half an hour by yourself." She hated it at first, but it really is a skill kids need to have, to be able to amuse themselves for a little while without having an adult hopping around organizing activities and singing songs and stuff! (After a while, my niece loved playing alone at least for short amounts of time, and I loved to listen to her chatting away to her dolls and stuffed animals!)

nannytara said...

I encourage independent play with the 2 and 3 year old I watch. The dad is a stay-at-home dad and is constantly complaining that he can't get anything done which is why I'm there (really he just sleeps all day) and so while the kids play train, color, or whatever, I do dishes and quietly watch over them to make sure they aren't getting into trouble. It helps me get duties done (thought I don't have to) and also teaches them to keep busy while whoever is there with them, is trying to cook, clean, fold laundry etc. but we generally include them in those activities.