Cultivating daily independent play means a lot to one’s child’s growth. Independent play is the act of children playing by themselves without the aid of their parents or an adult.
Parents should start to cultivate daily independent play for their children at the age of as early as five years old or earlier. The earlier a child is trained to develop their mental and physical abilities, the better their performance will be in the future.
There are many strategies as to how to cultivate and encourage children to practice independent play. Here are some of the ways how to nurture children into playing independently.
Start Playing with Them for a Period of Time Before Letting Them Play Independently
Children aged around five years do not have fully developed mental capacity yet, especially focus.
It would be best if you guide them from the start for 20 minutes or less than that. It depends on how long it will take for your child to get comfortable and used to the activity they are doing.
After some time of playing together, you can slowly let your child do the playing independently. However, they might become uneasy if you leave them all alone. The best thing you can do is do some chores like folding clothes, cooking, and other chores with you somewhere in their sight. This way, they will be rest assured knowing that you are still here within their sight and can play comfortably and independently.
Choose The Appropriate Toys
If you plan to let your child play independently, make sure that the toys they will be playing with are safe and challenging enough to stimulate their brain. As mentioned before, children still do not have fully developed focus so avoid providing them with many toys. Instead, choose quality over quantity and let them work on one activity at a time.
Art-related, puzzles and others of a similar category will be a good option for your child to work on independently.
Do Not Interrupt
When your child has started to play independently, it means that they have gathered enough focus and attention to work on the activity they are doing. As a parent who wants to cultivate daily independent play, you would not want to disrupt the focus they have built up. Let your child play for as long as they’d like and then you can give your comments and compliments on the work they have done.
Keep Them Engaged
Do not let your child play with the same toy or work on an activity repetitively. This will eventually lead them to lose interest. Change toys and introduce new fun activities when you start to feel that they have become too comfortable with what they are doing. By doing so, your child will be engaged and excited as they are being introduced to new kits to play with.
Do not also let them play for a long time. Set a break so that they will be able to rest and recover.
Make It a Daily Routine
For you to successfully cultivate daily independent play for your child, you should find a way to make it a daily routine. Pick a time of the day when your child will be playing. Make sure that they are active and happy with the time you have chosen so that they will look forward to it every day.
Eventually, it will become normal and natural for them to play independently at that certain time of the day.
Constantly Study the Things Your Child Is Interested In, As Well As Their Preferences
As a responsible and caring parent, you should be knowledgeable of the things your child is interested in. This includes their preferences and likes. Every time they play, pay attention to the things they are exceptionally good at it and which activities and toys they find to enjoy the most.
When you have found the toy for them, let them find it and set it up in a way they prefer the most. For example, if you find out that your child likes to play assembling and disassembling, you can put the toy/s in a container where they will have to disassemble it to get their new toy to play with.
Put Your Trust in Your Child
You might be worried if they play on their own. If you want to cultivate daily independent play, putting your trust in your child is a vital factor in that journey. You have to let them play independently so that they will grow and develop excellently. Also, if your children find that you actually trust them and let them play independently, it will build their confidence and find ways to keep that trust you are giving to them.
Provide a Safe Play Space
Letting your child play independently does not mean you will let them play anywhere. There are lots of areas in a house that is still not safe for young children. This is why you should set up a safe play space or as coined by Janet Lansbury, a “Yes Space”.
Create a space large enough for them to explore. You can provide that play space with some toys and safety equipment such as trampolines, mini swings, etc. If there are sufficient things around them enough to keep them engaged, they will most likely stay in that area and stay away from the dangerous things and areas within the house.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Cultivating Daily Independent Play?
Nurturing your children to practice playing independently provides a lot of benefits for their growth and development, such as playing with swing sets. When they play independently, they will work their brain which will encourage the use of critical thinking and imagination.
It will encourage them to enhance their problem-solving skills as they work on the activities and play with fun and creative toys.
Focus takes a long time to be developed and enhanced. According to a study, children aged 9 to 10 years old still do not have enough focus, that is without training. By cultivating daily independent play into your children’s lives, as early as 3 years old or even younger, they will develop focus and increase their attention span as well in the long run as they grow up.
They will learn valuable lessons as they play independently and develop self-control as well. When children play themselves, they will be able to practice their decision-making skills. As they continue to play independently for a long time, they will start to develop confidence in themselves, knowing that they can handle the activities they are given on their own.
Cultivating daily independent play is much better than letting your children sit down and use gadgets or watch TV all the time. This will make them unproductive at a very young age which is not healthy for when they grow up.
The time when children play independently is the time they explore on their own, such as playing with swing sets. Without any interruptions, they will start to get the feel of independence at a young age which is a very valuable aspect of life as they grow to become adults.
Even though it seems that they are simply just playing, they will bring the mindset and ways they think of when they are playing as they grow and will be able to apply it to much more complicated situations in life.
Their imaginations and creativity will take them to great lengths, both in their education and future career.
The self-confidence they have developed at a young age will bring them to success and excellence when they grow up to be young adults. The ability to focus, control themselves, make decisions, and think critically will help them determine their path for their future.
This is why it is extremely important to cultivate daily independent play for your child. Start nurturing your child now by following these ways and strategies.