Structured Playtime


There is some confusion as the the distinction between each of the playtimes described in the -wise series. This article discusses Structured Playtime. Structured playtime as defined in On Becoming Babywse II (page 71) is simply independent playtime where mom chooses the toys played with and the time it is done.

In On Becoming Toddlerwise (page 49), it progresses. Mommy picks the activity and the time it happens. This is a good skill because the child needs to learn that he can’t always choose the activity. Once your child gets to school, he will have very little freedom about what he does and when he does it. Structured Playtime can be playing puzzles or coloring. It can really be any activity. I would choose an activity that is going to require some concentration and focus. I believe this can be something done in teh presence of others. Perhaps you are making dinner while your child colors at the kitchen table. You can also have all of your children color together. You can have your children play in the yard together. You can overlap structured playtime and sibling playtime. When you instruct your children to play with each other, they can develop important social skills. If your child is resistent to structured playtime, you can start with short increments of time and work up–using a timer.

In On Becoming Preschoolwise (page 97), the rules for structured playtime are the same as in Toddlerwise. Mom chooses the activity and the location of the activity.

I view this activity much like free playtime. It is a good activity for you to turn to when making dinner or other chores. It is good practice time for preschool and on.

See these posts for more on other playtime activities:

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4 thoughts on “Structured Playtime”

  1. Hi, We structure playtime with mom, playtime with dad, playtime in playpen and playtime with limited choice of toys in the room. Is it reasonable to expect a 15mth old to SIT & focus thro each rm play activity? What is the avg time of concentration a 15mth old have? tks

  2. I am not sure about that. I will have to look into it. If your little one has independent play each day, chances are she has good focusing skills for a 15 month old. I would expect a 15 month old to get distracted. My 16 month old has a much longer attention span than my son’s 3.5 year old friend.

  3. Not sure where to put question. I have a 5 month old who has just started to cry everytime I leave the room. I can’t figure out why the sudden clinginess. We have started playpen time, but she cries the majority of the time. She has always been difficult to soothe, and despite doing babywise since 3 weeks, still cries herself to sleep for every nap and bedtime. Do I continue with our schedule and just let her cry through playpen, and other independent play times?Lisa

  4. Lisa, I would still work at independent play, but don’t expect a 20 minute session out of her. If she cries the whole time, just do 5-10 minutes for now. Set a timer so she will see that the timer, not her crying, determines the length of independent play.It sounds like she might be experiencing separation anxiety. I don’t know much about it (no experience), but that might be it.


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