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Developing Independent Playtime

by T Akery | August 21st, 2013 | Development, Infants/Toddlers

boy in sandPlaytime is a time of learning for many toddlers. There are skills they develop during this time. While they do need parental supervision during playtime, they can also learn to play a little bit by themselves. By learning to play by themselves, they start to develop some skills that can be used later on such as problem-solving. There are some benefits for parents as well since they don’t have to keep their little one entertained all the time.

Start your toddler on the way to independent play by establishing a safe zone for them to play in. You may need to set up baby gates for the room. Additionally, pick toys that are safe for toddlers to play with. Avoid any toys with small pieces or anything that breaks easily. They will still need to be constantly supervised even in a safe zone. Toddlers have a knack for getting into trouble even if there is nothing apparent for them to get into trouble with.

Once you have your zone established, you can start on developing independent play by allowing them to do their own thing for a few minutes a day. You want to resist the temptation to jump in and play. Give them those few minutes to explore by themselves. Don’t try and direct how they play or what they play with. Just let them play. This can be a difficult task. You just have to stand by and watch while they solve the problems themselves. It is important to give them the time to learn how to play by themselves to develop their own skills.

Swap out their toys during independent play. Don’t put the same toys in their play area day after day and expect them to be satisfied with playing with the same old thing. Different toys will help develop different skill sets. They need this variety to keep them from getting bored. A bored toddler is one that will find trouble.

Independent play is a part of the learning process. Toddlers need some time during the day to discover things for themselves. This time for independent play allows them to do just that. While you can spend part of playtime playing with them, they do need to have some freedom to explore things for themselves to develop the skills that will encourage independence later on. So, it is okay to step back a little bit and just let them have a few minutes to themselves to explore things on their own.

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