As parents, we often experience the pressure to educate our children at every opportunity to prepare them for the “real world.” However, sometimes as a result of this, our child becomes overscheduled with structured activities. Or we get so bogged down with life’s responsibilities that we turn to convenient technological options, to keep our children entertained.
Unfortunately, both these situations can negatively impact our child’s emotional and intellectual development. Fortunately, there is one simple, free and essential activity that can do wonders for our children’s long-term development if we make time for it regularly.
Why is free play so crucial?
Free play keeps your child balanced in between structured activities. Independent and group free play also increases children’s motor and cognitive development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, free play is important for healthy brain development. Other benefits include:
• Allows children to interact with and experience the world around them
• Gives children the chance to practice decision making
• Nurtures creativity which will transform into creative thinking overtime
• Great preparation for reading in which written symbols must correspond with objects, actions and abstract concepts
• Helps them develop their imagination, dexterity, and other strengths
• Builds children’s confidence and helps them conquer their fears
• Teaches children teamwork skills, so they learn to share and solve problems with others
• It’s fun and keeps them lighthearted!
True Free Play
Authentic free play is any type of unstructured activity that encourages children to take initiative with their creativity and imagination. Some ideas of true free play activities include building with blocks, playing with dolls or making a craft. It should not include playing with most electronic toys.
Children can participate in free play independently or with others. A great example of team free play could be a group of children playing a soccer game together in the backyard or park.
Barham-Floreani, J. (2013, August 2). Easy Child Development Tips: Encourage ‘Free Playtime.’ Retrieved from: http://welladjustedbabies.com/easy-child-development-tips-encourage-free-playtime/
Iannelli, Vincent M.D. (2013, October 1). The Importance of Free Play. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.about.com/od/activitiesforkids/a/1006_free_play.htm