Studies have shown that unstructured, unrestricted and spontaneous play is important to the overall well-being of a child. Yet, many children are not active in free play due to reasons such as an increased focus on their academics and enrichment. There are also instances where there’s a change in family structure and lifestyle.
Playing also takes a different form as children are now equipped with game consoles and touchscreens. This means less time for play with conventional toys and playgrounds. For older children, play in school is structured into lessons and the time they spend on play is probably 30 minutes during recess.
Why is free play so important
Free play helps with the cognitive development of your child
Games on the computers and ipads may give your child the excitement and pleasure of playing. However, early childhood studies indicate that a child learns best when he or she is free to explore, create and imagine. While engaging in traditional free play, your child is in the best place for learning and fostering creativity. This helps in the development of cognitive abilities.
Free play allows you to bond with your child
Besides being able to spend time with your child while playing with them, you can understand how your child views the world through free play. For example, by engaging in the game of role-play, you can understand what your child thinks about his or her father or mother. They are essentially playing out those identities.
Free play helps to strengthen social skills
Play that is unrestricted and unstructured allows the child to make decisions independently and strengthen his or her social skills. When interacting with peers, your child will learn to express desires and feelings. It also helps them communicate and share with others on how to manage conflicts.
Free play is a physical form of release
Play protects the child from the effects of anxiety and stress. A balanced lifestyle with an appropriate amount of time for play is beneficial for the child’s mental and emotional health. Besides, keeping active is the formula against obesity.