Sara, 18 months old, stacks blocks on top of each other, then knocks them down, only to build them again.
Chen, two and half years old, takes books off the shelf, looking through pages and tells stories to stuffed animals.
Jamal, four years old, hooks play trains together and runs them along imaginary paths.
What do all of these have in common? They’re all examples of independent play!
Research has shown the importance of play. Play can enhance brain structure and function and promote executive function (the process of learning).
While interaction with adults and other children during play builds important cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills, independent play also has benefits. When a child plays alone, it can foster imagination and creative play, build persistence and problem-solving skills, and teach patience and resilience.
Independent play is not unsupervised play. Independent play is when children play by themselves with a parent nearby. It is an important type of play. Families shouldn’t feel guilty about giving their babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners a chance to play on their own.
Children of all ages can engage in independent play. This article from Parents shares how independent play can look for children of different ages. This article from PBS.org shares how tips on how to encourage your child to play independently.
PA’s Promise for Children’s When I Play, I Learn has fun activities using every day items, like a towel, measuring cups, a box, or a blanket. See what activities your child can do and what skills they are learning.
Watch the video below from Positive Parenting about the importance of play and the impacts it can have on the development of children.