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Monday, December 23, 2019

Unoccupied Play: What it is and Why it is So Important

Photo by pexels (pixabay)


Children play in many different ways and for many different reasons, even when it may not look like "traditional" play. Unoccupied play, may appear as random gestures and sporadic movements most commonly demonstrated by infants from birth to three months old. As random as they may seem, they are a meaningful attempt by the child to explore and learn about their environment and personal space. Unoccupied play helps to prepare babies for future play experiences by building their confidence and helping them to learn about their environment.

The building blocks of solitary play

Unoccupied play is precursory to solitary play, during which children play alone rather than others. Solitary play typically lasts through two years of age. The exploration of space and movement during unoccupied play prepared children to play alone and concentrate on activities while beginning to learn about cause and effect and explore creative play.

Sensory experiences

The exploratory movements of unoccupied play allow children to experience different sensations, textures, and materials. They may begin to practice manipulating objects and understand space. The freedom of unoccupied play encourages children to come to their own conclusions and make decisions without organization or expectation.

The development of motor skills

Although appearing as unengaged and stationary, young children are in fact engaged in unoccupied play that helps build a baby's motor skills, preparing children for more refined play in the future.

Understanding personal space and potential

During unoccupied play, infants may explore their range of motion and the potential they have to change their environment. Stretching, kicking, grabbing and gripping help babies build strength and challenge their muscles. These movements prepare them for more complex motions and sequences of movements as they develop.

Parents of young infants can keep in mind the many benefits of unoccupied play as they learn to engage with their children and support their development. It may not look like anything remarkable, but this phase of development is just the beginning of your child's play experience; soon enough they will be enjoying all of the different types of playground equipment.

The Different Stages of Play

Unoccupied Play

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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