Individual or solo play, non-directed play, free play without the intervention of an adult (mom, dad or other educators) offers great benefits in cognitive development of our children, increases their independence and autonomy, encourages their fantasy and allows them to make their own decisions without fear of being wrong.
It is true that many children do not want to play alone, perhaps because they have not had the opportunity to learn to do so. Children who at all times want us to be an active part of their games and activities. Children who claim us at home, in the park or wherever they are playing. In a way this is a sign that they need us, a way to get our attention and of course, to make sure that they continue to be the most important thing in our lives. But it is important that we allow them moments of solo play and that our little ones learn to play alone from time to time.
It is also true that playing together, playing with our children, we share more than a game: we teach sharing, we help develop their language or their abilities not only physically, but also emotionally and socially, ultimately we help them grow. I have always liked playing with my children, intervening in their games and helping them move forward, however I have always tried to leave space and time for my children learn to play alone.
The advantages of solo play are multiple, but here I want to highlight those that I consider fundamental and those that differentiate it from the shared game.
Solo play allows children to:
- Be more independent and autonomous exploring the world around them assimilating different ways of learning and relating to their things and environment.
- Make decisions for themselves, make mistakes and find a way to redo what they have not done well without the constant intervention of the adult who solves their problems or that voice that tells them 'not like that, darling, that's wrong'.
- Develop undirected symbolic play. Playing alone, our children can do and say things that perhaps in front of an adult they would not do because they are forbidden or because they feel a little embarrassed, such as saying a bad word or making interesting faces.
- Encourage fantasy and creativity, the child who plays only expands his inner world by creating characters and scenarios around him that do not exist.
Despite all these advantages we must bear in mind that it's not about our children always playing alone, quite the opposite. A child needs to share the game with other children and with other adults to learn to relate, to learn the rules of coexistence, to develop their language and social skills.
Shared play and solo play complement each other, neither should replace the other because both are necessary for the correct cognitive and emotional development of our children.
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