Independent play is just as important as group play for children. In fact, independent play teaches children how to be self-reliant, creative, imaginative, and even improves focus and thinking capabilities. And let’s be honest, the well-deserved “Me Time” isn’t so bad either. Providing your child with independent play opportunities is the first step in turning these opportunities into daily habits. Check out these 5 ways you can encourage independent play in your child at home:

  1. Reading: If your little one isn’t quite reading on their own yet, head on over to your local library and pick up some picture books. Encourage your child to take some time to quietly look at their books. For older kids, encourage them to set a 30-minute timer each night and read a fun story of their choice. Reading helps children tap into their imagination and also helps develop and strengthen literacy skills.
  2. Sensory Activities: Makeone of these sensory bins and have your child independently play with the contents of the bin. Sensory bins are great for boosting child development as they work to strengthening fine motor skills, encourage critical thinking, and they even help to foster imagination.
  3. Creative Expression: Provide your child with crayons, paints, feathers, clay and other craft materials and allow them to express themselves independently. Creative play helps to grow and develop social, emotional, and even communication skills. Plus it’s fun!
  4. Blocks or Bricks: Grab a bin of wooden blocks or LEGO bricks and watch your child build a tower while they learn about reasoning, balance, and so much more. *Pro Parent Tip: if your child is having trouble playing independently, start by building with them, once your child is immersed in their creation step back and let them shine!
  5. Kitchen Fun: For little ones, playing with the contents of the kitchen cabinet is fun! Dedicate a low cabinet, away from the stove, to your child and fill the cabinet with plastic cups, empty cardboard food boxes, and even utensils. Allow your child to play when you make dinner, do dishes, or anything in between!

Children benefit from independent and creative play by learning skills and developing their imaginations. To round out your child’s development, kid-focused activities like The Little Gym can be another great option for busy families providing age-appropriate programs available after school, on weekends, and even when school is not in session.