How to Encourage Independent Play

Little girl playing with wooden blocks

Independent play might seem like a parenting myth: you suggest all sorts of solo activities to be answered with ‘no!’, or your little one will only pick up the crayons if mummy or daddy are watching… But, independent play is in fact very real and forms an important part of your child’s development.

Letting your toddler or child play by themselves is a key component of Montessori, encouraging imagination, confidence and problem solving. It allows children to feel capable and respected and lets them make and learn from their own mistakes.

Wondering where to start? Take a look below for some of our tips on how to encourage independent play.

An Inspiring Space for Play

Encouraging independent play begins with a safe space to explore, where imagination runs wild and time is forgotten. You should feel confident that your little one’s playroom or bedroom is safe enough for you to be close by, without hovering over them.

Everything they require for the perfect playtime should be within easy reach. Our Tidy Toy Box is the perfect storage solution for solo playtime: it features little wheels that make it easier for your child to tidy up after themselves!

Tidy Toy Box

Why not create a bespoke storage solution with open shelves for your child to grab their favourite toys from? The Tidy Modular Box has smooth rounded corners for safety.

Tidy Modular Boxes

Schedule Time for Play

Just like you’d schedule time for sport or homework, schedule time for play! Each day, set aside some time for solo play and it will become a natural part of your family routine. 

Start off with play that involves you too, before leaving your little one to enjoy playing on their own. It’s important when joining in with your child’s games that they’re the director and you’re the extra! Let them create the plot or the rules, you’ve been invited to their magical imagined world.

Choose Appropriate Toys

Children are more likely to engage with toys that are suited to their age and ability. Toys which are too difficult may become frustrating, and toys that are too easy may seem boring! Create an inviting and challenging environment that is at a level your child is comfortable with.

Our Tidy Magnetic Drawing Board is a versatile choice for the playroom: for younger children, magnetic blocks can be moved around for counting or creating shapes. As children get older, children can use the chalkboard or whiteboard sides to draw imaginative creations.

Mum and child playing with a magnetic drawing board

Some toys can over-stimulate children, providing a sensory overload which creates a shorter attention span. Electronic devices and toys with loud noises and flashing lights are better limited to a short time every now and again. Instead, choose toys and products which can be played with an array of different ways: our Tidy Balance Board can be whatever your little one envisions… a surfboard, super car ramp or bridge to a far-away land!

Tidy Balance Board

Keep Playtime New and Exciting

By switching up your child’s play environment you will keep playtime fresh and interesting for them. As well offering an array of lots of different types of toys and play activities, you can also swap out and cycle through toys so that no toy loses its fun value over time.

What better way to keep your little one’s toys intriguing than with our Tidy Rotating Bookshelf? By giving children easy access to an array of toys and books, this rotating storage solution offers the perfect option for cycling through a selection of toys. It’s also crafted with sustainable wood, providing a long-lasting piece built with durability and stability in mind.

Girl taking book from Tidy Rotating Bookshelf

Practical Life Lessons

Allowing children to be involved in practical life activities promotes and encourages autonomy. Playing doesn’t always have to involve toys, early learning activities and mimicking household tasks can provide imaginative playtime for little ones.

The Tidy Clothing Rack offers a great way to encourage independence: its compact design makes it easy for little ones to reach up and pick out their outfit for the day, or fancy dress outfit for playtime! There’s also a height scale included which allows children to see how much they’ve grown.

Girls measuring each other against Tidy Clothing Rack

Setting up versions of real-life activities that your child can access independently and safely will also promote solo play. A miniature kitchen with pots to stir and groceries to put away creates a fun early learning setting to copy your daily routine!

Children will always want the family to join in their fun and games, but with a few tricks up your sleeve you can ensure that playing alone is just as enjoyable. We have lots of new products in our Play and Learn category, perfect for encouraging healthy and imaginative play.

Related Articles