Benefits of quiet time

by Zsofia Kulcsar
Individual play
When it comes to individual play, parents are having a hard time these days. Although that is how we grew up – playing by ourselves – we feel that we have to provide our children constant entertainment. It should not be so! Playing individually can benefit children’s development in many ways, from improving imagination to self-discipline and perseverance.
Time to introduce quiet time
The difficulties usually come when children get into the age of “not having afternoon naps” anymore. Which is shockingly around 2-3 years old these days (in England): parents suddenly have to fill out the nap-time. The best thing to do in my opinion is to introduce quiet time when the child drops his or her nap-time. Quiet time is incredibly beneficial, children can learn things at their own pace. Studies showed that children are much more likely to try to solve things if they have no teacher or parent around – as instead of looking for help they are just trying to figure things out themselves. Quiet time cannot be introduced straight away, it has to happen gradually and also we have to keep in mind children’s age and personalities. For toddlers, 10-15 minutes might seem forever, while older children can play up to 1-2 hours by themselves. Let your child get used to spending time by themselves by increasing their quiet-time weekly.  (Of course, if they might need your help for going to the toilet and such.)
Quite-time activities
There are many ways children can spend their quiet time. Letting them read their books is one of the best ways, as children are able to remember the story or make up their own version on the basis of the illustration they see. Although children would certainly sit quietly, I would not suggest usingTV or iPad as a quiet time activity as it can make children over-stimulated, passive and limit their imagination. Instead, I would suggest using open-ended toys, that they have unlimited ways to play with, like setting up tents/forts, cardboard boxes, building blocks, figures, soft toys will help their imagination and creativity. Rotating different toys also helps, as children will get back their long forgotten toys as if they received a new toy. When it comes to rotating toys, I think we can say that less is more, i.e. having less number of toys out at the same time will engage children more than having a large number of toys out at the same time.  Drawing and colouring are also a good choice, not only keeping children busy but helping their fine motoric skills. Introducing sit-down activities will later help the child stay focused at school and also makes things easier when it comes to homework later. Last but not least, free play, i.e. let children use their own imagination to decide what to play!
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