Structured activities are important for building developmental skills in children. They teach children how to follow rules and routines, and provide growth opportunities for motor and social skills.
However, between play dates, piano lessons and soccer practice, we sometimes overbook our kids and skimp on providing children time for free play.
Creating a mix of free play and structured time helps kids build an array of skills and feel more balanced in their everyday lives.
Soccer, piano, and play dates are important for development of gross motor skills, social emotional well-being, and peer play skills; however, unstructured, time when the play is freely chosen and directed by the child, is just as important for growth and development.
So take a break from running around from one activity to the next and give your kids free time to invent a game, pretend play, build a fort, or do whatever their imaginations create; you’ll be helping them to build critical life skills.
Here are six benefits of free play for children:
- Builds creativity and ability to come up with unique ideas.
- Develops motor planning skills, helping the child to create and carry out ideas, motor actions, and activities.
- Fosters decision-making skills. Unstructured play provides many opportunities to make choices while playing alone or while playing in a group.
- Fosters independence. Helps children learn to think independently and teaches them how to entertain themselves.
- Develops social skills and collaborative play skills. Free play allows children to develop conflict resolution skills and learn to take turns. It also helps children develop their skills as leaders and as followers.
- Provides opportunities for children to discover their interests and skills!
It is important to note that free play does not include time with electronics, such as the television, video games, or computer. True free play is child initiated, spontaneous and guided by the child’s imagination without the direction of an adult.
What do your kids love to do most during their free play?