Are your kids getting enough free play time? Childcare experts from pediatricians to psychologists to Harvard University agree: free play is something that kids often don't get enough of. This is especially true in an overly regimented, screen-and-schedule-driven world. So we think it can be handy to step back and remind ourselves of the many ways in which free play is vital for healthy childhood development.
Free play is good for kids in multiple areas of growth, including mental, physical, and social. This month we’re focusing on the mental health and brain development benefits children receive from free play. Play time encourages positive growth in skills like problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity, plus so much more!
When we say "free play," of course, we don't necessarily mean undirected free time. Adults can still participate, offer ideas, and provide toys to suggest possible games. What makes free play free is the emphasis on children's choices. For once, they get to be the ones in charge. They can set their goals (and change them!), and they can make the rules. But it also means not shielding them from the consequences of their choices, although adults can still provide support and advice when asked for. Giving kids this sort of independence has numerous benefits and naturally complement and build on the skills that kids learn during more structured activities.
Take a look at the infographic below showing the many evidence-based benefits increased play time has on your child’s growing brain. Need some brain boosting activities for free play time? Click the link below for a full list of activities for kids of all ages. https://flintobox.com/blog/child-development/12-brain-games-for-kids
Stay tuned next month as we continue this conversation and discuss the many social and emotional benefits of free play time!
9 Cognitive Benefits of Play
About the Author
Arthur Grant is a child play theorist, educator, and father. As chief editor for Muddy Smiles, he advocates for (loads) more play within education and at home.