As a parent, you want your child to be happy and engaged in their playtime. Focused independent play can play an important part in their development, and it also allows parents time they need to get things done around the house. Not to mention, constantly entertaining a child can be exhausting, and can affect their ability to learn how to play independently.

Here are some tips and ideas to help your child develop the skills they need to play on their own:

  • Start with short periods of time: If your child is used to having you play with them all the time, it may take some time for them to get used to playing on their own. Start with short periods of time, such as 10-15 minutes, and gradually increase the length of time as your child becomes more comfortable playing independently. You can do this by setting up a small invitation to play that is safe and will take them a few minutes to explore. For example, you can begin a small tower and leave some pieces unfinished or you set up small world play that they can then discover all on their own. 
Small world play set up

    • Provide the right environment: Make sure your child has a safe, comfortable, and inviting space to play in. Have age-appropriate toys and activities available that your child can choose from. Set up the environment in a way that allows your child to explore and discover new things. Having a space that is completely safe is important for them and for your peace of mind. We decided early on that our kids rooms should be perfectly baby proofed, accessible, and decluttered. With a baby gate in place, I began leaving my kids to explore their space for small period of time at an early age. They enjoyed hiding in their closets with books, exploring their toy shelfs, and sometimes just tumbling in their beds. Providing the right environment is essential for getting the desired results. 

      • Model independent play: Show your child how to play independently by modeling it yourself. Sit down and play with your own toys, read a book, or engage in a quiet activity. Your child will see that it's possible to have fun on their own. One of 
      • Offer guidance and support: Encourage your child to explore their own interests and provide gentle guidance and support when needed. Help them learn new skills and provide suggestions for activities they can try on their own. If there is an activity your child particularly enjoys, help set them up with that activity so you can walk away for a bit. For example, do they enjoy coloring? Print them out a couple of coloring pages of their choice. Our fabulous ABC Phonics cards from Jo Collier Designs come with a free downloadable coloring book, so you can match the card to your coloring page. 


      • Praise and reinforce independence: When your child plays independently, make sure to praise and reinforce their efforts. Let them know how proud you are of them and how much you appreciate their independent play.

      • Be patient: Learning how to play independently is a process, and it may take some time for your child to feel comfortable playing on their own. Be patient and supportive, and remember that every child develops at their own pace.

      Supporting your child as they learn to play independently is an important part of their development. By providing the right environment, modeling independent play, and offering guidance and support, you can help your child develop the skills they need to play on their own. Remember to be patient and offer praise and reinforcement when your child succeeds in playing independently.

      March 06, 2023 — Barbara Chernyukhin