“Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves,” Dr. Vanessa Lapointe makes a deep meaningful point about the havoc that overscheduling can cause in our children’s lives. More and more research is being done into the importance of unstructured free play in a child’s mental well-being.
In fact, it is now considered so important that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has recognized play as a fundamental right of every child.
Free play essentially means allowing children to decide the rules of the game, so to say. It is driven by children, no adult supervision required.
Play is essential to development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.
It means no interference in what the child is doing unless there is a real danger of someone getting hurt. But as parents, isn’t our job to ensure that our kids are getting the best opportunities for “useful” activities like an organized sport? Yes, but it is also our job to give them an environment in which they can fully thrive and explore all facets of their personalities.
Needless to say, when left on their own, children develop their imaginations and exercise their minds. Since free play enhances a child’s flexibility to adjust to constantly changing circumstances, the more your child is given free time, the more adaptable they become.
2. It enhances a child’s dexterity and physical skills
It includes fine and gross motor skills. They learn the limits of their own bodies by emulating others, or coming up with their own versions of “fun”.
3. It helps develop their social skills
Allowing kids to freely interact in a safe setting also develops their social skills. Children instinctively know how to make the most of unstructured playtime, just watch a group of kids in the park.
Their games change as more players join or leave, sand can become a nest in one minute and turn into a fort or a lava monster the next. You can often see children becoming adept negotiators as they interact with viewpoints other than their own.
4. It helps in maintaining a great bond with your children
In fact, psychologists have found that even adults who participate in ‘playful play’ as a group tend to find better and more creative solutions to problems.
So, in addition to maintaining a great bond with your children and promoting their development as healthy well-rounded individuals, you may find yourself improving too as you let your inner child free!
Of course, as they grow up, our children are going to have their own share of stressful schedules and overworked lives. Let’s not push adulthood on them. Let kids be kids. Don’t worry, they will not get left behind.
In fact, allowing your kids some unstructured playtime may provide them with just the right skills to cope with the rat race successfully.
These are times when kids need to use their imagination or enjoy physical activity rather than being coached on a team or watching electronic entertainment.
Therefore, free play is important for healthy brain development, allowing children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, cognitive and physical abilities. It is a tool for developing a child as a whole.
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Frequently Added Questions (FAQs)
What is a free play?
Free play is an unstructured, voluntary, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them.
What is the importance of play?
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.