For children, playing is both fun and educational. They may not realize it but when kids play they are learning a variety of skills. These skills are important in school, but they are also necessary for day-to-day activities.
Playing individually has unique benefits for children. But playing in groups adds the chance to develop important social skills. Children need ample opportunity to play both individually and with others to round out their development.
Babies and young toddlers often will not play alone for long periods of time. But they have not developed the social skills to play happily with other children for very long, either. Parents and older siblings often end up being the entertainers. While this is good for your child, it is also important to allow him to learn how to entertain himself.
Encouraging your child to play alone not only allows you to do things that you need to do, it also gives him the opportunity to learn certain things. Independence is obviously important. But the less obvious benefits of learning self-confidence and creativity are also crucial to your child’s development. When he jabbers to himself, he is practicing early language skills in a way that he may not when others are close by.
Older children also need to play alone at times. Playing alone allows them to be creative without criticism from others. It also allows them to get in touch with their emotions and think about themselves and the world around them. These thoughts may lead them to ask questions and curiosity is a good thing.
Playing With Others
Young toddlers often express little interest in playing with other children their age. They will often sit close to them but play independently. Still, having other toddlers to play with is good for early social development.
When toddlers do play together, conflict often arises. This is not cause for alarm. It is simply due to the fact that the children are just beginning to learn how to manage frustrations and work out problems.
As your child gets older, he will learn to share and cooperate with other children. Eventually he will develop teamwork skills. This can be encouraged by providing toys such as puzzles or blocks that children can play with together.
Team sports are another great way to encourage the development of social skills. Whether your child joins a team or just plays with friends, sports require children to get along and work as a team. But if your child is not ready for sports yet, don’t push it. Wait a while and try again.
Children can learn a lot from playing both individually and with others. Enabling your child to do both is important. Doing so will allow him to develop all of the skills he needs to succeed.