Does your son or daughter play enough? Not on a phone or tablet; much to their chagrin, Candy Crush isn’t what we’re talking about.
What we mean is, does your child get enough time during the day to stomp on piles of leaves, dress up as a Gruffalo princess, run around the garden trying to drink rain, or stare listlessly out the window in a daydreamy haze?
Making Memories, Building Futures
Unstructured, undirected play is sometimes known as free play. Not only is it the raw ingredient in happy childhood memories, but more and more, expert studies are demonstrating that play is vital to the healthy social, cognitive and physical development of all children. Just take a peek at these 43 developmental benefits of free-play
, all of which are scientifically backed and supported by experts:
Prioritising Time for Play
If you took one look at your calendar and guffawed over the mere thought of spare time, you might have a child who is overscheduled. Don’t feel bad! In this modern world, we place an enormous amount of focus on academics and other, more organised forms of art education and athletics. These can certainly be enriching, but according to the experts
, our little ones might be missing out on some vital areas of development if they are not allowed proper time to engage in unstructured free play as well. The good news is that we parents can feel guilt free as we leave big blank spaces on our kids’ calenders. Far from failing them, we are promoting nourishing child-led life experiences. And if looking at an empty slot feels uncomfortable, just scribble “outdoors time”
or “wild hour”. That should do the trick! Remember, having children who know how to amuse themselves by building dens or dressing up is just as important as having a son or daughter who spends an hour a day practicing their piano lessons or brushing up on the alphabet with a tutor. Find a balance. But feel good when prioritising free play; research has shown that kids who engage in self-structured play are developing healthy bodies, improving their social and cognitive skills, and even processing difficult emotions and feelings. Play is fun. Play is healthy. Play is productive. And play is cathartic.