Why is independent play important and how can you create conditions for a child to play for a long time, independently and focused?

Independent play is an essential part of childhood. When a child engages in independent play, they:

  • Develop creativity, creative thinking, and imagination.
  • Develop skills of independence and self-confidence.
  • Reduce levels of anxiety and stress.
  • Develop social skills and empathy.
  • Develop language skills.

So, it's our cherished dream that a child simply plays...

However, how can we make it happen? Because in practice, it's very challenging to make a child play on their own...

The ability to play independently is a skill that doesn't magically appear. Like a muscle, it needs to be trained.

Here are a few conditions that can help you organize such play:

  1. Play Space:

    • The space should be bright, clean, and at an optimal room temperature. It must be safe! Toy shelves should be organized. There should be no TV, computer, or tablet turned on where the child plays.
  2. Tools for Play:

    • Toys or materials should match the child's current interests and needs. To keep a child interested in a toy, it's important to choose based on the play schemes they currently demonstrate.
  3. Organization of Toys:

    • There shouldn't be too many toys readily accessible. Keep only one set of materials for play on a tray or in a basket if it consists of multiple pieces. This way, the child can easily take what they need and clean up after playing. Keep materials in an "unfinished state." For example, an unassembled puzzle, an unstacked pyramid, or sorting pieces next to the sorter. This will encourage the child to complete the activity, as they are sensitive to order. Don't forget to rotate toys regularly.
  4. Observation:

    • Observe the child's play. Notice what they are engaged with, when their attention wavers, and during which part of the day they are more receptive to quiet play.
  5. Believe in the child but avoid expectations:

    • Don't control the play process or impose too many rules. The child can explore the objects for play and come up with various creative ways to use them.