Do you ever stand back and watch your child play? It can be hysterical listening to them role play or watching them jump off steps and run around the garden. Whether it’s by themselves or with others, toddlers can learn a lot from playing without you.
Most of the activities that I set up for my toddler are left up in her playroom so that she can play with it in her own time. Don’t get me wrong I also love playing with her but I have recently learnt to also play alongside her and take a step back to encourage her own imagination to develop. I often let her lead the activity as I’ve realised the benefits she can gain from this.
When trying a new activity I always show her how I intended it to used but the majority of the time she starts off copying me but then discovers her own way of doing things and she gets so much more from this type of play.
What does independent play encourage?
- Develops their imagination. They often try things that even you could never have dreamed up. Whether it is dinosaurs stomping through a fairy garden or using a bowl as a hat; toddlers are free to try anything. These skills will be very handy as they grow and start problem solving at school.
- Allows them to be comfortable without you. You can’t be with your toddler all the time. You have jobs to do and once they can play by themselves it means you can do these jobs quicker; it also means that you don’t have to try to achieve everything while they sleep. In the long term it will also help them to be get ready for school or nursery as they have to start thinking for themselves and they will learn to play with other children.
- Helps to create calm. When toddlers are engrossed in their own imaginations they actually relax and an atmosphere of calm surrounds them. This doesn’t happen every time as my toddler can still run around wanting to play chase but she is developing the skills to play calmly.