Tuesday, January 14, 2014

“Self-Directed” or "Independent" Play . . . Important?

Why is “self-directed” play important? Or what I like to call free play? 

This gives your little one the opportunity to explore the world around him. The more opportunities to exercise the imagination the more creative children become. As your little one gets older, this imagination will serve as a
great value when your child has advanced to reading chapter books, when there is a need to problem solve, and overtime your child will develop a more positive outlook in life when looking towards the future. We all can feel confident in ourselves when we can envision a positive future.

Sure, set programs are good for structure, but try to allow some self-direct/free play as part of the daily routine. What does self-direct play look like?

  • Engage with your little one at first showing how you use your imagination.
  • When you notice he or she is creating something, ask questions like “What are you making?” “What do you see?” “What do you think?” And any answer is correct in his or her imaginary world.
  • Let your toddler/preschooler explore with the world of imagination.
  • If indoors, your little one might pretend to be an animal.
  • A house or castle can be created with building blocks or spare boxes around the house.
  • Another little one might be fascinated with the sun beam coming through the window while batting it with his hand.
  • Another one might be delighted in finding his shadow on the wall.
  • Step back and allow your little one to explore with this new discovery.
  • If outdoors, let your little one explore with nature.
  • Sometimes collecting things like rocks and sticks can be fascinating at this age.
  • That might just be a stick to you, but he is imagining it’s a drawing instrument as he draws in the sand. Or she might pretend the rocks are treasure she found while digging.
For more information related to this topic, refer to my book, PRECIOUS YEARS LEAPS & BOUNDS as it covers

  • Toddler’s Social Skills and Sharing
  • Activities for Toddler and Preschool Age
  • How to Plan Your Week

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