Summertime has started, and as the days become longer, the amount of activities that children are involved in become greater. From baseball to summer camps and classes, children are often times rushed from one activity to the next in an attempt to help them learn skills that are necessary for their development. However, in the midst of going from one activity to the next, children become stressed out and end up disengaged in the activities that they are immersed in due to the lack of downtime or free play that they are allowed.
Studies show that free play is the best possible way for children to grow and gain skills that are necessary for their development. It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. As a result of this, free play is very important at aiding in healthy brain development.
There are many things that children can learn through free play. The advantages of it certainly outweigh any disadvantage to free play that might be present.
- Social Skills – When a child is engaged in free play, they often times will seek out other children to engage with them. They might turn the playground into a castle, and one child will be the king, and the other the queen. Through this process they will be acquiring the abilities to make decisions, collaborate, cooperate with others, control impulses and empathize.
- Virtues – Sometimes while playing a child might run into issues with their puzzle piece not fitting the way they would like it to, or their stack of blocks might keep tumbling down. It is through these experiences that children learn perseverance, patience, temperance, contentment, persistence, and the list continues on.
- Physical Development - Through free play a child is learning how to do things without being told how. Just like when your child learned to crawl and walk, free play allows him the chance to try new things. A great place to do this is at the playground and let them climb. This allows him to build their strength, coordination, a sense of body awareness in space and competence.
- Self-Discovery – Free play gives kids the time that they need to be kids. They can write, think, build, draw, figure out what they like and don’t like, dream and most of all, use their imagination.
There are many ways that you can allow your child to have free play to learn and grow. Have playdates with other children, go to the park or spend time in your sandbox in your backyard, provide your child with a dress up box filled with costumes and props and let them pretend to be adults. Have a box filled with objects such as paper towel rolls, plastic bottles, scraps of yarn, fabric and paper and allow your child to build things with no pressure to have any sort of required end result. Encourage them to tell stories and sing songs and most importantly of all, allow your child to do what they do best, be a kid.
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