Summer is almost here, meaning your kiddos are about to be home a lot more. And unfortunately, kids get bored easily after spending only a couple of days at home.
They have loads they can do, tons of toys, and maybe even siblings to play with. But it never fails — before long they’re asking you to play with them, hoping that will solve their boredom. But if you're busy working from home or doing chores that needed to get done last week, it’s impossible to play with them every second of the day.
Independent play is perfect for these moments! Don’t feel guilty about saying no to playing — independent playtime is good for your child. Of course, we should spend time with our kiddos and support them when needed. But, your child actually needs independent play to learn essential skills crucial for their development.
So, say goodbye to that parent guilt and hello to independent play activities. We're going to walk you through the importance of independent play and how to get started today!
The 7 Main Benefits of Independent Play for Kids
Independent play is when a child is able to play alone without having someone prompt them through an activity. This doesn't mean your child will be playing for hours without any supervision. It simply means you'll be nearby, doing other things, while your child plays.
Here are seven exceptional benefits children gain from independent play.
1. Their creativity and imagination blossom.
Imagination helps your child come up with their own scenarios during play. They’re able to create numerous possibilities for whatever situations they create as they play.
2. They learn problem-solving skills.
Without any prompting from an adult, your child will learn how to solve their problems as they play.
3. They learn how to self-regulate.
With independent play, your child is able to become more in tune with themselves and learn how to regulate their emotions.
4. They build persistence.
Your child will learn how to keep doing something even though they find it challenging. This will help them become more resilient.
5. They develop patience.
At first, your child may want your help. But without you, they’ll be prompted to work through problems on their own. They’ll have to take their time to solve their issues, helping them learn patience.
6. They gain independence.
Your child will learn what they’re capable of — and it’s a lot more than they probably think! This time for themselves is likely to encourage even more independent play.
7. Their confidence soars.
By creating and solving their own problems, your child will gain more confidence in themselves and their abilities.
A great benefit for parents, aside from knowing their kid is making huge strides in their development, is the time gained for other things! While your child is having a great time playing independently, you can get some work done, cook dinner, complete some chores, and more! 😊
8 Independent Play Activities for Kids
As a parent, you can encourage and motivate your child to have fun through independent play. Try to create a routine for independent play. This helps your child know what time of day and for how long they can expect to play independently.
Take a little time to play with your child for a bit — at least 15-20 minutes when you’re first starting out. Then, let them know for the next few minutes, they’ll play by themselves while you do the laundry, cook, or work.
To help them out, try not to comment on your child’s independent play. Though it’s tempting to congratulate them for doing a great job, don’t. By commenting on their independent play, you can shift their focus from their play onto you and disrupt their imaginative flow.
So, what are some great independent play activities for your child to enjoy?
1. Wax Sticks
This is an awesome, no-mess craft that promotes creativity and imagination for minutes or even hours on end. Your child can create tons of 2D and 3D pictures. They also pull apart easily in case they make a mistake or want to create something else.
2. FREE Printable Activity Books
Coloring books are a perfect way to promote solo play while also enhancing your child’s focus and motor skills development. It’s a simple, fun, and engaging way to pass the time.
3. Color In Puzzles
These puzzles are an incredible craft for encouraging independent play. This pack includes two different puzzles, markers, and a color in puzzle case for hours of fun. After beautifully coloring the puzzles, your child can then practice putting them together all on their own.
4. Color In Tumbler
With this kit, your child can color in their very own 16 oz tumbler! After personalizing their tumbler, they can use it to carry their favorite drinks inside and outside the house.
SunGemmers are a beautiful and simple suncatcher craft. Your child can decorate any of the four packs of SunGemmers, ranging from heart and flower patterns to tree and turtle designs. Once your child has carefully put the peel and stick gems in place, they can place their creation on a window to let loads of sparkly sunlight into their room.
6. Wooden Blocks
Your child can create their very own town with these wooden blocks, then create a whole world of play with toy cars and people driving into their new town. Or they can see how high they can stack the blocks. With wooden blocks, the play possibilities are endless!
7. Wooden Figures
These wooden figures are the perfect complement to your child’s wooden block set. These open-ended toys will help them bring their imagination to life while they explore what the real world is like through play.
8. Set up a Reading Center
Even if your child doesn’t know how to read yet, they can create their own stories by looking at the pictures in their favorite books. Reading is a fantastic time-busting activity at any age.
This isn’t all you can do to support their play. You can get extra creative and create your child an indoor independent play station. Just set up a section of the room with things you know they love! Legos and crafts are amazing choices for their new independent play area!
But the independent play doesn’t have to stay indoors! If you can create a safe space in your backyard, there are many independent activities your child can enjoy outside.
8 Fun Activities for Outdoor Independent Play
Warmer weather calls for fun outdoor play! Your kids can (safely) soak up some Vitamin D while adventuring around in their backyard. And you can sneak some work in as they play independently. Here are some entertaining activities your child can have fun with outside.
1. Build an Obstacle Course
Go as big or as small as you like — it doesn’t have to be fancy. You can use anything you have lying around your home, like pool noodles, little toys, lawn chairs, boxes, large toys, and more. Get creative because the possibilities for the course are endless and fun!
2. Turn on the Bubble Machine
Children love bubbles! Turn on a bubble machine and watch your child run after the bubbles, popping any they can reach. They can even use a pool noodle as a bat to pop the bubbles like a baseball player.
3. Set up a Painting Station
You can set up a painting station in the backyard with canvases and rocks. Your child can draw gorgeous pictures or decorate cool rocks for your garden.
4. Use a Sandbox
Kids love to play with sand. You can bring the beach to your backyard and let them play for hours, creating castles or digging up dinos. Make sure to give them enough pails and shovels and maybe even some water to keep them entertained.
5. Water Play
Set up a water station to encourage sensory play. You can even add sand to the water table to include more sensory fun for your child.
6. Jumping Fun
Consider purchasing a trampoline. It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s very worth it! Your child can burn energy and learn new tricks as they bounce around.
Your child can grow a green thumb while they practice focus and patience. It’s a great activity that can turn into a wonderful hobby as they grow. You can learn more about gardening with children here.
8. Riding a Bike
Not all activities have to be super energy-busting — your child can enjoy a calming activity like riding their bike or trike around the backyard.
There are many ways to encourage independent outdoor play. You can even set up the sprinklers for some extra water fun!
Incorporate Fun Independent Play Today
It’s never too late to start independent play. There are many ways to promote independent play so long as the space is safe. This will give you and your child both some much-needed “me” time to ensure their developmental growth while you get things done.
Will you start introducing independent play to your child this summer? Which of these independent play activities do you think your child will enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @plbfun for more boredom-busting ideas!