Regulated school, additional maths, piano, and swimming all in an afternoon. Sound familiar? Children are busy, busy, busy. With little unstructured time to themselves, children are loosing the ability to play, dream and innovate.
With constantly supervised, programmed lives, children have schedules that would rival that of any CEO. They are constantly told what to do, where to be and once they are alone, many are incapable of occupying themselves. Perhaps, this is fuelled by competitive parenting and fear over depriving our children of opportunities? Or anxiety over keeping children safe? Whatever the reason, solo play is vital to children’s fundamental development.
Solitary play develops creativity and innovation, problem solving, calmness and social independence. Not to mention that parents are given a much needed break. The play world is a child's opportunity to be strong and powerful, without an authority figure guiding them and ultimately, it is practise for adulthood.
"solo play is vital to children’s fundamental development."
It is important to note that organised sport or activities are good for children but not if this is their only play time. Play has become so scarce that for so many children they require an activity such as gymnastics to inspire and provoke self play. Although gymnastics is a structured lesson once a week, the biggest portion of learning doesn't take place in class. The repetition of new and interesting skills at home is how they get mastered.
Although every child has an inner voice on how to play, it is simultaneously a developed skill. It is possible to lose or have it entirely disabled through a lack of practice.
Here are my top tips to help your child play by themselves.
Blocks, puzzles and play dough...Children have unlimited toys at their disposal and are usually able to select something to play with but often need a little inspiration to help them stick with it.
Spend a few minutes helping your child build that blanket fort, getting them involved with an activity before leaving them to carry on alone.
Respect their downtime.
When your child is managing to play by themselves, try as much as possible to leave them alone. Avoid commenting on what they are doing or asking them to do something.
"Play has become so scarce that for so many children they require an activity such as gymnastics to inspire and provoke self play."
Out of the way but nearby
It isn't independent play if you are constantly having to follow your child around to ensure that they aren't getting into some sort of trouble.
Create a boundary. This could be for example some quiet time in their cot accompanied by a book or a favourite toy.
If your child isn't used to playing by themselves, this is a skill that will take some time to develop. Start with a few minutes at a time and build from there. With practice, they will improve.
Screentime doesn't count
Screentime, although at times unavoidable and acceptable in moderation, is not a substitute for solo play. It is a passive activity that does not require much creativity or active movement of their bodies.
Sounds easy, right? Maybe easier said than done!
At Gymkidz we aim to inspire children to play, we teach them to move their bodies safely and promote movement in fun and exciting ways. Spider-man handstand in the cot, forward rolls on the bed and cartwheels in the yard. Gymnastics is a great activity to create the basic foundation for play and build resilient, gritty children who strive to do a little better after each fall.
Why not join us and see your child light up with gymnastics inspiration to play?
Contact us at Gymkidzau@gmail.com for a FREE trial or visit our classes and pricing to book online and see our full week availability.