Independent play is defined as a scheduled time where your child plays by themselves with no parent or sibling interaction. This type of play carries a ton of benefits that will help them grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Benefits of independent play
When your child plays by themselves, they’re improving their mental focus. Whether it’s playing with a doll house or building blocks, they aren’t focused on what their peers are doing but rather what they can do with what is available to them. This will also aid in their attention span and help them feel more comfortable without you by their side. This “me time” is crucial for their imagination, creative development, and sense of self. Plus, it gives you time to finish up chores without distraction.
While independent play can occur at any age, here are a few fun solo activities for your preschooler to try at the playground. Your child’s imagination will play a key role with independent play and play with their peers. And, it’s super easy to use imagination at the playground. Encourage them to see the playground equipment like a movie set. A tower can act like a princess’ castle or the tunnels can be a secret underground fort. It’s best to know their interests so you can encourage their independent imaginative play.
Go on a mini scavenger hunt
You’ll sit out for this one! A scavenger hunt puts your child’s problem solving skills to the test. Compile a list of common objects found around the park (examples include a rock, stick, dandelion, pinecone, leaf). Write them down on a piece of paper and hand your child a box or bucket. Ask them to find all of these objects and place them in the box. They’ll have to return the items to you for a prize (ice cream, anyone?).
Try the sandbox
The playground’s sandbox will provide loads of sensory activities for your child and keep them entertained for a while. Pack a few cups, molds, cars, and shovels so they can explore and dig deep into their creative side. Just make sure the sand is clean first!
Bring the books
If your child doesn’t seem interested in playground equipment, you can still enjoy the fresh air by placing down a blanket with lots of picture books. Looking at books independently is a big milestone! Even if they can’t fully read yet, they’re still learning just by looking at the pictures.