Even though our playroom is a pretty fun place to play, my kids still like to be right where I am. If I’m in the kitchen, they’re running around me in circles. If I’m on the couch, they’re climbing all over me. You might know what I’m talking about. But as summer is ever approaching, I’m going to try to encourage my kids to play by themselves more often. It might be in the playroom or even at the table next to me.

Here are 3 tips to help promote independent playtime:

1. Start fresh. Try to have the play area clean before each playtime. It tends to be much more inviting if everything is all picked up and put away. Often times if their playroom is a mess with toys out all over like landmines, they won’t even go in as they don’t know where to start, or even walk! We’ve learned to clean up our playroom each time we play, either at the start or after. It makes it clean and inviting, ready for action.

2. Set up the environment. Even if the room is clean and ready to be played in, it can be a hard decision for a child to know where to start. They can be apprehensive to dive in and start playing with something, as it might feel that there are too many choices. To help with this, I will set out a specific set of toys encouraging them to play. I’ll get out the farm playhouse and display all the animals around the farm. This helps my kids get excited about playing.

3. Getting them started. There are times when I need to spend a few minutes playing with my kids. This helps them get started and involved in the activity, then they are usually good to keep going on their own. I tell my daughter I will play princess dinosaurs for a few minutes, but then after, I’ll let her stay and play on her own. This can help them know you’ll be there, helping get them started, and they will hopefully be involved enough to stay and play on their own.

How do you encourage your children to play by themselves? Are they wanting to follow you around too?