“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.” – Dr. Seuss.

We marvel at young children’s ability to find time and space to be alone.

This is especially true at Seedlings. Alone time is everywhere!

Young ones can often be found alone in the alley, up in the tower, looking at a book in the cozy corner, or possibly digging away in the sand. Once we observed a girl talking to herself in the mirror for close to a half hour as the world buzzed around her. It is so important to honor a child’s alone time by protecting it.

Time alone provides young children a chance to become lost in imagination, delve into an intrinsic interest, or simply to observe others. Many children have the ability to find alone time while surrounded by others, as if they found the space between the packs of cars on the highway.

“We must be careful not to give undue attention to what we label shyness.” – Bev Bos

Many adults associate being alone with loneliness or anti-social behavior. A child playing alone may quickly be labeled “shy.” The “shy” child may be ushered into social situations they are either not ready for or not interested in, and adults may determine they are not socializing correctly. It is a huge challenge, but important not to project our feelings on children’s play, especially when they are alone. Children are much better at immersing themselves in the moment while adults tend to stray off into a long-term frame of mind.

For the Adults
Another way to see the value in a child’s alone time is to see the value in ours. Technology continues to connect us at younger and younger ages, and we may be losing the opportunities to develop our ability to be alone. For adults, alone time has dwindled to where it is nearly non-existent. Explore how much time you spend each week truly alone. How would you feel if you left the house without your cell phone? Is alone time important to you, and if so how do you create it?

Playing alone at the clay table.

Learning to be okay alone is a lifelong task. Lifelong tasks need to begin early.

Here are some ideas on how to provide the children in your life the time and space to be alone:

  1. Most children’s rooms are filled with toys and books. Try designating some time each day for some room time.
  2. Alone time in a backyard or safe space outdoors has the added benefits of being surrounded by nature. Try bringing toys or inside activities out.
  3. Try setting up your child outside with their art materials while the sun sets and you make dinner.
  4. Set up the camping tent in the living room and make a cozy den.

Along with creating alone time, let’s protect the time when children discover it on their own.

© Jonathan Iris-Wilbanks and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011
Photos © Haidor Truu and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011