Encouraging Independent Quiet Time for a Preschooler

If there is one thing my preschooler does not like, it is being alone: playing alone, resting alone, eating alone. You name it, she always wants someone right by her side to talk with her, to listen to her, and to be with her. She is an exuberant personality that loves company. Always.

I am, however, more of an introvert. Her constant company is exhausting. I love it, but it is exhausting. I’ve been working for years to try to get my no-longer-napping youngster to take an independent quiet time break each afternoon. In the past month, I’ve finally found a way to encourage independent quiet time for my preschooler: audiobooks, especially Playaways. Audiobooks have helped my daughter have independent quiet time each day.

Audiobooks have been a favorite way for my daughter to relax and finally rest. But there has been a problem with using the standard CD player or even the audioplayer on her tablet. She could not reach the CD player, or the CD would be scratched and not work well for her. Both of these would result in her bouncing out of quiet time. The audioplayer on her tablet likewise caused issues because she was able to get out of the audiobook. Then she would be distracted by the other games and apps on the tablet.

The other issue was getting her interested in the audiobooks in the first place. To her delight, though, we found a Playaway at her library with Disney stories about princesses! She loved it. We found a Frozen novelization and a Finding Nemo one too. By beginning with these familiar stories, she was already excited about the story. Kids always love hearing the same favorites over and over again! This was no exception. By depending on a simple device with a story she loved, Strawberry was finally eager to take time away from other people to relax.

These were not high quality literature. To be honest, these were books that would drive me crazy to read over and over again. But hearing a story is, in my mind, better than zoning out in front of a movie. She must imagine the action and comprehend the words alone.

There was a different bonus to starting with familiar stories: it helped her ease into other literature. When she saw audiobook options on the Playaway shelf for Cam Jansen mysteries and Frog and Toad stories, she was interested in trying them. Now she wants me to read her those stories (which are easy chapter books and early reader books). These certainly are literary more than watching a movie would be! Then, at our next visit, she saw an audiobook for Mary Poppins and wanted to give that a try. Although it is very different from the movie (which she is familiar with), her listening time is a time for trying these new things.

During her quiet time, she knows she must stay in her room. For the first time, I’ve found a way to keep her there, happily. Some days she even says, “Mom, I’m tired. I’m going to go have quiet time and listen to my story.”

I have long known that listening to books was a great way to help people step into literacy. Now I also see audiobooks as an important tool for helping an active and social preschooler learn to sit back and quiet down for even just a short time each day. By giving Strawberry a simple tool without distractions (a Playaway), she is able to have an independent quiet time and get literacy practice, as well as give me a much-needed break!

The simple format of a Playaway meant that my preschooler had few choices: listen, go forward, go backward, or stop listening. It kept her from getting distracted from the stories.

What tools have you found to help you give your preschooler an independent quiet time?

Note: I was not sponsored to write my thoughts about playaways. I am an Amazon affiliate, however, and have included links within this post for your convenience.

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  • I have the exact same problem with my daughter. She can’t stand to be alone, yet I (the introvert) need my alone time! I have never heard of playaways. I will have to look into them. I love the idea of using an audiobook to encourage quiet time.

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