We all love to see our children get involved in free play. It keeps them engaged, allows them to make new friends, and helps them stay active. Researchers have written about the importance of free play and how children need to get take part in free play. Free play plays an important role in the development of children, right from their early years. For children, playing is of utmost importance as it would help them to be physically fit and develop a strong regimen founded on discipline.
According to Merriam Webster, free play can be defined as “unrestricted movement, activity, or interplay.”
Play England, a children’s charity describes the free play as “children choosing what they want to do, how they want to do it and when to stop and try something else. Free play has no external goals set by adults and has no adult imposed curriculum. Although adults usually provide the space and resources for free play and might be involved, the child takes the lead and the adults respond to cues from the child.”
Children love free play as it helps them have more leisure time to play— either on their own or with friends. As parents, we should give our kids more time for free play as it helps build their critical thinking skills, develops the brain, strengthens their muscles, and promotes creativity by allowing them to imagine and think. In the case of children, Playing should be promoted as it would develop many critical skills such as concentration, self- discipline etc.
Here are the benefits of free play.
- Improves brain function
According to researchers, free play helps in improving brain function. Free play stimulates the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling emotions and problem-solving. It also helps with critical reasoning and thinking.
- Promotes social and emotional development
Free play is a great way to let kids learn more about the world, society, and people that live in it. It allows them to interact with other kids and people, thereby increasing their social and emotional development. Games for children are so easy to find these days, as we are living in such an interconnected, globalized world.
When children are given the time for free play, it helps them develop a feeling of who they are and they will start valuing and respecting others. It’s also pertinent to note that kids will learn to understand new situations and experiences such as meeting newer people, starting a new school, moving to a new place or city and even staying away from parents, for a while, if needed. Free play gives them the confidence to think and independence to act. Games for children can be of any variety, ie intellectual, or involving physical strength etc but they all could develop some necessary virtues.
- Helps with cognitive development
When children are given the freedom to act independently, they can do wonders as their brains can start processing information. Free play hardwires their brains to succeed in challenging times. They think creatively and think of multiple ways to solve any situation.
One good example to see how kids can think imaginatively is to give them play-doh during free-play and watch them create new and creative shapes. Give them a pencil and a blank sheet and see their creative juices flow.
Another benefit of giving children free time is they will learn to get out of a conflict or situation. As parents we are naturally concerned when our kids get involved in conflicts but when then we should also learn to stay away from these and let the kids solve the issue on their own by thinking of a way out.
The child is also better equipped to handle or solve real-life issues using skills learned during free play.
- Supports physical development
Free play is one of the best sources of fine and gross motor skills and physical development in kids. When kids are involved in free play, they are using all parts of their body to strengthen their body and improve their stamina. This, in turn, will lead to kids being able to deal with a demanding schedule, both at school and at home. They will have better strength to take part in sports as well in the classroom.
- Develops language skills
Free play has a massive impact on children learning their mother tongue and the local language of the place where the family lives. Imagine you are from Odisha and are living in Chennai; your child will learn both Odiya and Tamil and maybe other languages as well during the free play session. It has been observed that children are better at learning languages as they interact with a lot of other kids and people and sometimes this is a two-way learning process.
Children learn from other children and that’s a fact none of us denies. They play and talk together and when they do so, they are teaching each other new words and phrases—in short learning from each other words and their meaning. They also learn to speak for themselves, speak for others and in some cases, stand their ground if they are right.
- Free Play helps in learning
We all know by now how free play is important for the healthy development of the brain; it helps children to be creative while helping improve their imagination, creativity, and physical abilities. And these skills are important for children in the classroom. As kids learn to absorb much of their learning during free play, they tend to carry this habit or practice in a classroom setting as well where they learn in a much better way.
- Happy parents, children, and teachers
Free play allows a child to be happy and when they are happy, their parents and teachers too will be happy. Just ensure you keep your children away from technology during free play. Let them get dirty by playing in the sand, let them play with other kids, let them do whatever they want to do, just let them have fun without any pressure.
It’s often said that children grow while they are playing and it’s quite true. Children are meant to play and spend a major part of their growing years by playing. At Orchids The International School, we ensure our students have enough time for free play as we know how important it is for their development.