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The Benefits of Independent Play Time

The Benefits of Independent Play Time

As parents, we are our child's first playmate. The role is a cherished one and gives us lots of opportunities to bond, explore and have fun together. However, it's also important for children to have time each day for independent play. In fact, solitary play offers a child unique opportunities to grow and learn.

What Do Kids Learn From Solitary Play?

Decision Making Skills

Solitary play requires young children to take initiative and hone their decision making skills as they decide how to engage themselves. The child is in the driver's seat and that can be thrilling, especially for children who might typically take on the more passive role when playing with an older sibling or with peers.


When a child plays on her own, she is responsible for creating the imaginary framework for that play experience. Is her block creation a castle or a boat? Are her stuffed animals in a classroom or at a tea party? Taking a little time each day to nurture that interior world of their imagination is important.

How to Self-Start and Self-Soothe

Sans an adult or peer playmate, he is responsible for starting the fun and keeping it going. Without an adult to calm him, a child has the opportunity to learn how to manage his frustration as a play activity turns out differently than planned.

Concentration and Problem-Solving Skills

Solitary play naturally leads kids to be more focused on the activity at hand. Since the child is the only one able to see her play project through, it falls upon her to solve any problems that arise.

How Can We Encourage Children to Embrace Independent Play?

Frame Independent Play Time in a Positive Light

It's easy when we're tired from a long day of meeting other people's needs to snappishly direct a child to play on their own for a while. Avoid making solitary play seem more like a chore or punishment than an opportunity to have fun. Instead, let your little one know that you are going to do your own thing for a bit and that it's his time to play by himself.

Create Safe Spaces for Independent Play

Letting your child play independently does not mean unsupervised. For the youngest kids, create a space where they can play happily within your eye-view. Older children will enjoy having some alone time in their room to play and explore.

Offer Open-Ended Toys

The best toys are the ones that children can play with in lots of different ways. Give children access to toys that allow for open-ended play play that follows the course of the child's imagination rather than a set of rules or instructions. Toys should be just right for their age and stage so they won't need an adult to help with their play. Strive to have basic, good-quality toys that cover a variety of types of play in your home building, pretend play, art, etc.

The best part of your child playing on their own? Watching them - surreptitiously of course! As he is happily keeping himself busy, you'll get a little window into the workings of your child's mind and an interesting perspective of his personality. Listening to him ramble to himself occasionally is also quite fun, especially when you hear bits of yourself ringing through!

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