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Sep 28, 2023 5 min read

The Power of Solitary Play in Early Childhood Education

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury
two young children play independently in bedroom

There is often a strong emphasis on group activities, cooperative play, and socialization in ECE. While these aspects of ECE are undeniably important, it’s equally crucial to recognize and appreciate the significance of solitary play. During solitary play, children have the freedom to explore their interests without the influence or direction of others.

This unstructured time allows them to tap into their innate creativity, which is a fundamental building block for future learning and problem-solving!

What is Solitary Play?

Solitary play, also known as independent play, is one of the earliest stages of play when children play alone because they have not developed socially to be able to play with others yet or because they choose alone time.

Solitary play is when children engage in activities by themselves without direct interaction with others, offers a unique set of benefits that contribute to a child’s holistic development.

Solitary play is often first seen in children from birth to 2, before they start interacting and playing with other kids, and teaches babies how to entertain themselves.

Let’s take a look at the importance of solitary play in ECE and how it supports a child’s growth and learning.

Fosters Independence

A baby takes part in solitary play, which fosters independence.

Solitary play encourages children to become more self-reliant and independent. When children engage in activities on their own, they learn to rely on their own creativity, problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities.

This independence not only empowers them but also sets a foundation for self-confidence that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Solitary play doesn’t mean complete isolation. Children engaged in solitary play often coexist with others who may be doing the same. This teaches them the importance of respecting others’ personal space and boundaries, a valuable social skill.

Builds Focus and Concentration

Cultivating the ability to focus and concentrate is becoming increasingly vital. Solitary play provides an opportunity for children to practice and improve their attention spans.

Whether it’s building with blocks, drawing or engaging in imaginative play, children learn to sustain their attention on a task, a skill that can benefit them in academic and life pursuits.

Baby girl plays with blocks, a solitary play activity.

Encourages Self-Expression

Children use solitary play as a platform to express themselves freely. Through art, storytelling or even playing with dolls or action figures, they can convey their thoughts, emotions and ideas.

This self-expression is essential for emotional development and communication skills.

Through solitary play, children discover their interests and passions. Whether it’s a fascination with dinosaurs, a love for art or a curiosity about the natural world, solitary play allows them to explore these interests deeply, often laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.

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Develops Problem-Solving Skills

When children play alone, they often encounter obstacles and challenges that require problem-solving. Whether it’s figuring out how to build a stable tower with blocks or navigating a complex narrative in imaginative play, solitary play prompts children to think critically and find solutions independently.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

While social interaction is essential, it can also be overwhelming for some children, leading to stress and anxiety.

Solitary play provides a comfortable and low-pressure environment where children can relax and recharge. It can serve as a valuable coping mechanism for managing emotions and stress.

Adults might worry about children playing alone, but solitary play is very normal, according to Michigan State University. When children engage in solitary play, they are able to explore freely, master new personal skills like new motor or cognitive skills and prepare themselves to play with others.

How an Early Childhood Curriculum Can Help!

A digital curriculum can help ECE centers.

In ECE, it’s important to strike a balance between group activities and solitary play. Both forms of play offer unique benefits that contribute to a child’s overall development.

Developmentally appropriate play is an important part of how a child learns.

Procare Early Learning powered by Learning Beyond Paper is an all-digital early childhood curriculum specifically designed to meet the unique needs of educating children from infancy through pre-kindergarten.  

The curriculum is embedded into Procare, making it easier and less time-consuming for busy teachers and administrators to provide high-quality education. 

With Procare Early Learning powered by Learning Beyond Paper, child care centers can: 

  •   Equip teachers with state-of-the-art online curriculum at their fingertips
  •   Dramatically reduce the amount of time spent on lesson planning each week
  •   Offer children a high-quality, developmentally appropriate curriculum
  •   Save money with this cost-efficient solution that’s integrated with Procare

This curriculum can be used in ALL child care center classrooms, with 52 weeks of lesson plans and more than 4,000 daily activities for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and pre-kindergarteners.  Learning areas include STEAM, language and literacy, physical development, cognitive, music and movement as well as interactive reading. Plus, teachers get tips and tools they can use in real time!

How much time and money could your child care center save using a digital curriculum designed for young learners? Enter your number of staff, number of students and type of program into our online calculator to learn your potential savings! 

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Calculate your potential cost and time savings by using Procare’s all-in-one child care management software. All we will need from you is some information about your child care location*: Calculate your potential cost and time savings by using Procare’s secure and effortless child care payment processing. All we will need from you is some information about your child care location*: Calculate your potential cost and time savings by using Procare’s classroom management. All we will need from you is some information about your child care location*:

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* Our data model is based on our experience working with over 100,000 child care centers, before and after school programs and youth organizations since 1992.

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The cost and time savings shown here are what the Procare all-in-one solution will help you save at your child care organization. Fill out the form below to see the full breakdown.

We understand that smaller centers and in-home daycare providers are operating on a tight budget, and that is why we provide all these features for the affordable price of just $25 per month. Let us handle the business of child care so you can get back to caring for your children.

To learn more about Procare home version, click below.

*Please note that the report you see only factors in cost and time savings for the in-home solution features. For Procare home version users that are interested in seeing how they can benefit from Procare’s full suite of capabilities, contact us today to speak to a Procare representative.​ *Please note that the report you see only factors in cost and time savings for the in-home solution features. For Procare home version users that are interested in seeing how they can benefit from Procare’s full suite of capabilities, contact us today to speak to a Procare representative. *Please note that the classroom management functionality is not available for in-home users. For Procare home version users that are interested in seeing how they can benefit from Procare’s full suite of capabilities, contact us today to speak to a Procare representative.

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For over 30 years, Procare Solutions has helped child care businesses big and small tackle their biggest operational challenges.

From contactless check-in, attendance tracking and staff management to family engagement, tuition collection and extensive reporting, we have the solutions that child care professionals want most.

More than 37,000 child care businesses choose Procare because we give them everything they need to focus on what they love—providing amazing experiences to the children in their care.

Our data model is based on our experience working with over 100,000 child care centers, before and after school programs and youth organizations since 1992.

Learn more at procaresolutions.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury