Independent Play Ideas For Preschoolers

Independent Play Ideas For Preschoolers

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Playing alone is really important, especially for preschoolers. These children are in the formative years of their lives, and the way they play influences how they will develop in the future. Independent play is a popular topic of conversation among parents today.

Independent play can appear to be illogical at times. Isn’t it true that we should spend more time with our young children? Help them in any way you can? In a nutshell, no. Although children require continual parental love and care, they also require time to be independent and play as such.

This independence gives kids a range of valuable skills that are crucial to their overall growth. As a result, autonomous play should be a part of a child’s day-to-day play schedule.

Yes, the importance of play is crucial for younger children, however quiet time activities and solo play in the play room is important as well. I’ll go over the benefits of independent play and some independent play activities so you can gather some ideas for your own young kids.

what is independent play

All kids need independent play time. It is more specifically when a child plays independently without the assistance of another person.

Sometimes it can be tough for young children, but choosing the right activities and the best toys can help your child use their gross motor skills and fine motor skills by getting their little hands engaged in play.

Independent play can encompass a range of activities, such as a child colouring on their own or reading on their own. This act of playing alone benefits a child in a variety of ways.

Why independent play is important

There are so many benefits of independent play, but most importantly Independent play encourages imagination and creativity. The development of a child’s imagination is crucial, especially while the youngster is young. Children’s imaginations assist them in solving problems on their own, allowing them to recognise that there are unlimited alternatives depending on the scenario.

This could be a novel approach to an issue or a means to better comprehend the world around them. Furthermore, independent play encourages exactly that: independence. Kids learn to play on their own, so they can behave without encouragement or assistance from others.

Self-regulation is also aided by independent play. This goes hand in hand with their newly acquired independence. Self-regulation is a critical component of conflict resolution, and children who are self-sufficient can learn to control their emotions and actions.

Being alone allows you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself. This is also true for children! Children cherish and require “me” time just as much as adults do.

Encourage Independent Play

This can be accomplished in a number of ways. To begin, assist in setting up play with your child before gradually distancing yourself so that your preschooler learns to be self-sufficient. This is an excellent method because it allows the child to feel supported while also allowing them to express themselves freely and, eventually, autonomously.

Giving children time and space to play freely is another method parents can foster independent play. Parents frequently feel compelled to compensate by spending excessive amounts of time with their children; however, it is critical to maintain a consistent play schedule for children. This should include an hour or so of independent play per day. This is not only good for a child’s growth, but it’s also good for the environment.

How To Encourage Independent Play for Preschoolers 

Engaging Toys

Choose toys that encourage them to be active and constructive, such as building blocks in different colors, dolls, automobiles, or age-appropriate puzzles (like these).

Toys that light up and make noise may appear to be fun at first, but they need less engagement and might quickly bore your child.

Limit Distractions

A child who watches television is not engaged in autonomous play. Turn off the TV and minimise other activities that can take their attention away from their game.

Teach Them

Before you expect them to play by themselves, you should provide them some suggestions on how to do it.

Show them how to drive trucks and cars around the room or how to build a house out of blocks.

Before you expect them to be content with their toys on their own, show them how to interact with them.

Limit Toy Options

Give them one or two toys that they are interested in playing with in their safe place.

If you have too many toys out, kids will just go from one toy to the next without actually playing.

If your child has a favourite toy, using it to get him or her to enjoy some alone time could be a smart idea.

If your child has too many toys, pulling them out may be more enjoyable than playing with them.

Using the 5-minute rule, limit the number of toys your youngster has access to.

Keep Toys Organized

Are all of the toys out and ready for your preschooler to take as many as they want?

Allowing your child access to toys is a good idea, but if they are all out in the open, they may become overwhelmed.

Instead than playing with one object at a time, kids may continue to pull toys out rather than play.

To prevent this, place toys in a way that kids can reach them but aren’t visually overwhelming.

give Them Space

When your preschooler is playing with a toy, try to keep your distance, now is not the time for quality time. It could be as simple as scooting back a few feet or sitting in a chair rather than standing right next to them. I’m a firm believer in giving preschoolers space to figure things out in the early years.

Gradually increase your distance until you are in the room next door or a safe distance away. Make sure the area where your child is playing is secure and well-childproofed.

Independent Play Ideas

Here are a few preschooler activities you may set up for your preschooler and leave them to do on their own.

You are the best judge of your preschooler’s abilities, so choose activities that are demanding but not too difficult for them to abandon.

Encourage them to find a solution on their own if they seek for assistance…

However, if they appear to be stuck, assist them!

Water Play

Water play stimulates your child’s senses and motivates him or her to investigate cause and effect. Dumping and pouring is an excellent way to practise fine motor skills.

See these Water Table Activities For preschoolers for ideas on water play.

Sensory Play

Creating a sensory bin is one of the best independent activities and so great for a child’s development. There are many creative ways to use sensory bins, here are some great ideas for you.

Puzzles

This activity will require some setup and supervision to get started, but your preschooler will enjoy making a puzzle on their own after that.

By making your own puzzle out of blocks, this activity promotes creativity and cognitive skills.

Play Doh

Play dough is a fascinating sensory activity that allows kids to develop and express themselves. You can get the fancy play doh sets where the child can squish the doh around, or just give them the play doh on it’s own!

finger paints

I love when kids get messy, and finger paint will surely do that!

Make Sensory Bags

Sensory bags are fantastic because they allow children to engage in sensory play without the mess. These bags appeal to me since they enhance colour sorting skills.

I’m sure you could come up with a lot of other ways to use these sensory packs to encourage various skills.

Megablocks

Megablocks are a great independent play activity and they promote imagination and fine motor skills as well. They promote open-ended play and help with hand-eye coordination.

Reading Books

I know your preschooler isn’t reading yet, but looking at board books and enjoying the colors on the page is good activity for your little one. Touch and feel books are also a good option as it invites even more sensory exploration.

Coloring

Coloring is a terrific hobby and independent play idea for kids to do on their own. You can encourage your preschooler to color with water and a no mess coloring pad, OR give them crayons and paper or cardboard boxes. It’s up to you.

Give a child some crayons and colouring papers (which you can easily print from any website or buy in a traditional colouring book!) and your child is set for hours of entertainment.

Coloring is a fantastic way for kids to express their creativity. A dog can be bright pink and a person can be bright blue. Coloring encourages a child’s creativity and independence by allowing them to create their own vision of reality.

Pretend Play

Pretend play has been discussed extensively, yet it is an excellent independent activity for a preschooler. Pretend play can be done in a group setting or on one’s own. Spending time in their own universe with imaginative play benefits both children and their imaginations.

Sorting and Matching

Sorting and matching games, like puzzles, provide kids a chance to practise reasoning and use their fantastic minds. Parents will undoubtedly profit from these matching games.

Maybe the jumbled mound of Tupperware in your drawer or making sure all of your ingredients are colour coordinated is their matching game of the day. You can use pom poms, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and other colorful open ended toys of different textures for color sorting play.

Simple duties can be turned into self-directed entertainment!

Listen to music

Play some music that is appropriate for your child’s age and have them show you their moves! Any child may have a nice time at a decent dance party. Music and dance are excellent physical activities for children.

Stages of Independent Play

When it comes to independent play, there will almost certainly be several stages.

You’ll need to be close to your child at first as they play. As they require assistance, assist them on an as-needed basis.

You can become more of a “observer” rather than a “participant” when they begin to figure things out for themselves.

Then you’ll get to the stage where you’re both in the same room…but working on different tasks. While they play nearby, you could be folding clothes or reading a magazine.

You’ll eventually get to the point where they’ll be able to play without you. They might be able to play in a playroom or a bedroom on their own.

Always put safety first. Make sure all of your child’s play places are preschooler-proofed and safe, and use your best judgement when deciding how far away you should be from your child.

How To Start Doing Independent Play Times If Your Kids Are Resistant

It’s entirely normal for your kids to reject playing at first.

There may be tears or tantrums if they are 2 and have never been required to play alone in their room. That’s OK.

Tantrums aren’t always a negative experience.

The trick is to take small steps. Begin small. Every morning, my 3-year-old will happily play for an hour (or more if I allow her). She’s used to it, and while she’s having fun, time flies.

Starting at 5 or even 10 minutes is a good place to start. If they cry or protest, comfort them that you are only out of the room and will be back soon.

When they understand you’ll return, they’ll eventually turn away from the back of the door and start playing. After they’ve gotten the hang of it, gradually increase the amount of time they spend in their rooms.

To get them in the “mood,” feel free to provide a drink or a snack (one that won’t make a major mess or pose a choking hazard, obviously). If my appear a little testy, I’ll start play time with a tempting snack, and that’s almost always enough to get them to settle in.

FAQ

When do preschoolers play by themselves?

When this skill appears, there is no magic age.

It all relies on your child’s personality and temperament.

Early on, some children may enjoy playing alone…

and that’s fantastic!

My son is a very outgoing young man who enjoys chatting. We are constantly improving our ability to play alone.

What Do They Learn From Independent Play?

This is a time for them to learn a little bit about life on their own, without your interference. Rather than having everything happen to them (e.g., when family members play with them and take them around, give them toys, etc. ), this is a moment when they get to choose their own path.

Children’s self-confidence grows as a result of problem-solving and decision-making. When they notice a problem and come up with a satisfactory solution, they gain confidence in their own talents.

If they have to rely on you for help all of the time, their confidence in their own abilities suffers.

Free Resource For You

I’ve created a free pdf just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, a rhythm or a schedule for your toddler then this PDF will help you find one that will work for your family.

This free pdf will help you

  • See sample routines for kids
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  • All you have to do is download and print

Click here to sign up for your free routine cards.

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