Confession time – I used to think free play was a waste of time. I used to work in an international school with an early years program that incorporated free play into the kids daily schedule. I would think to myself “These parents pay so much money for the kids to just play and learn nothing.”
In my mind, free play was just kids randomly doing whatever they wanted aimlessly.
Oh how wrong was I!
Fast forward many years, I’ve learned and personally observed many benefits to child-led play and have come to realise that play IS where learning truly happens for children.
Play not only brings in a fun factor, but impacts a child’s:
- cognitive development
- physical development
- social-emotional development
Here are some amazing benefits of child-led free play (Part 1)
1. Relieves stress
Unstructured play allows children to decompress and lose themselves in something they truly enjoy. It may look like running over and over and over again around the living room after a long day at school, or it could be just playing quietly with blocks and enjoying a time with no agenda.
2. Helps children work through anxiety and fear
Free play offers children control to play out everyday scenarios that might be scary or anxiety inducing for them in real life. You might see children play out scenarios such as putting on masks on dolls during this time of pandemic. You might also see children act out scary events over and over again in their play to make sense and work through their fears.
3. Foundation for being a self-motivated learner
Through self-directed play, children get to have autonomy over what they want to play and explore their interests and curiosities. They get to be in-charge of what they want to learn and that builds the muscle for leading their own learning instead of constantly needing somebody else to tell them what they need to study or learn. This establishes a foundation of wanting to seek out their own interests and dive deep into subjects that are dear to them.
Given the many benefits of child-led play, we are running a workshop titled Play Is Simple to help you support your children in their play so they can reap the amazing benefits of child-led play and you can get some time to take care of yourself!
Click here for more info on the Play is Simple Workshop.