Independent play simply means when your little one plays by themself with a parent nearby.
Even a few minutes of independent play can have a significant impact on a child's development, fostering; creativity, problem-solving, and concentration skills. Research shows that children who engage in more independent play may even develop stronger executive function skills.
Here are our favourite tips to foster independent play at home:
Create a Safe and Secure Environment
Creating a "yes" space for your child can be a great way to promote independent play. A yes space is a safe and secure environment where your child can explore and play without being told "no." This space allows them to concentrate and engage in play without any distractions. You can read more about how to create a yes space in your home here.
Less is More
The Montessori approach to playtime emphasises the philosophy of "less is more." Dr. Maria Montessori observed that children who have fewer toys engage in better quality play. Studies* have supported this observation, showing that fewer toys spark creativity and foster concentration. By offering fewer choices in your child's play space and rotating toys often, you can help them play independently and improve their concentration and creativity.
Make Independent Play a Routine
Making independent play a part of your child's daily routine can help them develop a strong sense of independence. Setting aside a few minutes of solo playtime in the morning and afternoon can be an excellent way to encourage independent play. Children thrive on routine, so making it a regular part of their day will help them know what to expect.
Create an Invitation to Play
Setting up an activity for your child to do independently can be a great way to encourage independent play. You can start the activity with them, and then switch to observation mode, allowing them to continue playing on their own. By inviting your child to play intentionally and thoughtfully, you can help them develop their creativity and problem-solving skills while promoting independent play.
Fostering independent play in your toddler can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your little one. Remember, a few minutes of independent play can go a long way in your toddler's development, and don't forget to enjoy watching them explore and play on their own!
Phlipot, M.L., 2014. Does the Number of Toys in the Environment Influence Play in Toddlers?. Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program. Department of Rehabilitation Sciences: The University of Toledo.