When you were a child, you can likely think back to a time when you were playing on your own, enjoying the depths of your imagination. However, a parent or teacher may have interrupted you and told you to stop the disruption. Although less common today, many parents and teachers falsely believe free play is detrimental to a child’s development. Keep reading for the importance of free play in child development.
What Is Free Play?
Free play is quite like it sounds—it is the free, unstructured, and voluntary play time that a child leads. They can play however and whatever they want. In free play, children may use their surroundings, which could include a variety of available toys. However, they could also rely solely on their imagination, using nothing at all.
How Is It Beneficial?
Free or independent play is important for a child’s mental and emotional development. Children who were encouraged to free play showed higher levels of executive function. Such a skill helps children to set goals and achieve them, allowing them to lead a happy and productive life.
Moreover, studies show free play enhances levels of mindfulness, increasing a child’s emotional and social well-being. Free play allows children to make deeper bonds and connections with others. What’s more, it helps children feel in control, peaceful, happy, and connected to their world.
How Is It Done?
Free play is a fantastic way for a child to express themselves creatively, but how is it done? The best part about independent play is that you don’t have to do much as the child will lead. However, you might consider having plenty of toys on hand to aid them; just don’t set a structure or guide them in any way.
Another positive thing about free play is that you can work it into your daily routine. For example, cut-up pool noodles are a great addition to bath time to help encourage free play, creativity, and imagination. Moreover, pool noodles are water safe and provide a great sensory environment that allows children to develop fine motor skills. Items like these can act as the foundation for endless imaginative scenarios, so don’t shy away from simpler toys.