How Free Play Helps Your Kids.
Routines and some structured activities are great for children but in today's world, we spend more time than ever working, commuting and just rushing from one place to another. Our busy lives have left us and our families time-poor and over scheduled with hectic routines. Research shows that children today are left with 50% less time for free, unstructured play, since the 1970's. Contributing factors being more structured activities, heightened health and safety concerns and the ever increasing screen-time.
What is free play?
Free play is complete freedom for the child. They decide what they would like to do and how they will do it. There are no objectives, instructions or rules. There is no adult interference. It is purely a time where they can discover, imagine, learn, experiment and make mistakes while having fun. With friends, children who have free play create their own games and therefore build negotiation and problem solving skills. They learn about teamwork and how to cooperate. Furthermore they will grow social, leadership and conflict resolution skills.
Free play allows a child to view boredom as an opportunity to create their own fun and happiness. Free play enhances creativity, innovation and develops self-reliance.
What are the benefits of free play?
There are a multitude of benefits of free play for kids. It's important in fostering cognitive, emotional and physical developments. By offering a child regular unstructured play time, they will become better students, friends, and people. It allows them to practice a variety of activities and scenarios to see what eventuates, giving them the experience to react quicker and more flexibly in different circumstances in life.
- Nurtures a sense of self and your place in the world
- Develops respect for nature
- Gives a sense of freedom & self-control
- Grows self-confidence
- Relieves stress & anxiety
- Builds character & personality
- Allows mistakes to be made without pressure or sense of failure
- Grows resilience
- Allows role play
- Reduces or conquers fears
- Social skills & leadership skills
- Encourages group work & cooperation
- Conflict resolution & negotiation skills
- Decision making skills; learning about cause & effect
- Provides an outlet for creativity, imagination & innovation
- Provides opportunities to discover interests and life passions
Getting the most out of free play
The best place for free unstructured play is in the great outdoors. All you need is space and time. Explore local and national parks, bike and hiking trails, playgrounds or even just your backyard. Encourage experimentation with what you can build and play with in nature such as sticks, stones, rocks, logs & branches, worm farming, fishing. Place limits on screen time and find time for your children to get outside for free play. While free play means no adult interference, if you have a preschooler, they should always be supervised.