Defining Independent Play

Why is independent play so important? I think in today’s day and age we need to define what independent play is.

Independent Play is…

  1. Being able to play alone.
  2. Being able to be self-motivated in that play time.
  3. A time to be creative and imaginative.

Independent Play is not…

  1. Playing with gaming devices.
  2. Playing gaming/digital devices with headphones on.
  3. Using any digital technology.

Some might look at this list in today’s culture and say “the first definition without the items listed in the second is impossible.”  Why not take the challenge?  See if you can have your child play independently for a length of time for two days in a row, using the definition of independent play given above.  It might be easier than you think.  Start with a short amount of time and each day add 5 or 10 minutes until you reach your goal.

Why is it important to eliminate gaming devices from independent play time? Because gaming devices leave no room for creativity. They don’t foster self-motivation in your child’s heart. Yes, they are pushing buttons and yes, they might be thinking but they are being told what to think and are, therefore, not thinking for themselves. The key to independent play is to help children grow into healthy adults that are self-motivated learners.

Children with initiative can be independent learners without needing to be told what to do or what to think. If they are creative in play now, they will be creative in work in the future. Being able to play alone teaches the skill of self-motivation. Self-motivated people become problem solvers. They are able to think quickly on their feet without extra stimulation. This is the type of person that becomes a world changer. So if your children give you a hard time about playing independently, just tell them, “You can thank me later because I am helping you to become a world changer.” They might not understand that now but their future is bright, all because you, as a parent, taught them the skill of independent play.


Cynthia Schrock was born in Ohio but grew up on the mission field with her parents in Quito, Ecuador. She married her wonderful husband Eric in 1990. They have two beautiful children: Ashley is 24 and Matthew is 19. In 2016 Cynthia completed a 13 year long journey of homeschooling. Eric and Cynthia have been involved in marriage and parenting ministry for 22 years. Cynthia is a Contact Mom, helping moms with solutions in their daily parenting struggles.  She has also authored a book on celebrating others called The Ultimate Gift of a Birthday.


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