Published On: Thu, Mar 16th, 2023

Unleash Your Child’s Potential: New FAU Research Shows Encouraging Independent Play Boosts Cognitive and Behavioral Development

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) have conducted a study on the impact of independent play on child development, and the results are significant. The study, which involved observing over 300 children between the ages of two and five, found that encouraging independent play can lead to better cognitive and behavioral outcomes in children.

Little boy looks out over a park from the top of a tree.

The study, led by Dr. Tara LaFollette, an associate professor in FAU’s Department of Psychology, found that children who were encouraged to engage in independent play exhibited better executive function, which includes skills like problem-solving, decision-making, and self-regulation. These children were also found to have better emotional regulation and showed fewer behavioral problems than those who did not engage in independent play.

According to Dr. LaFollette, the study suggests that children who are given the opportunity to play independently may develop a sense of autonomy and confidence that can carry over into other areas of their lives. This can have long-term benefits, as children who develop strong executive function skills are more likely to succeed in school and in their adult lives.

The study also found that children who were provided with a variety of play materials and toys were more likely to engage in independent play, indicating that parents and caregivers can play a role in encouraging independent play by providing a diverse set of play options.

These findings have important implications for parents, caregivers, and educators. By encouraging independent play, adults can help children develop the skills they need to succeed in all areas of their lives. The study also underscores the importance of providing children with a variety of play options and allowing them to explore and learn on their own.

Overall, the FAU study suggests that independent play is an important component of child development, and that encouraging it can have positive effects on a child’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development.

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