So what does your child do after school or on weekends? We’ve all come across this question as parents haven’t we? And often the reason why we are asked this question by a fellow parent is to find out what are the activities or after school classes that your child attends in order to spend productive time after school. And this is the solution that even the toymakers are trying to fulfil by designing unique toys and games as tools for parents to keep their kids engaged for hours.
In this hunt for ways to keep the kids busy, we over schedule our children and tend to forget the most important tool that helps children learn how to keep themselves busy themselves (hint: as compared to other tools this option is totally free of cost). Yes! You guessed it right! It is called free play!
Also known as unstructured play, free play allows children the freedom to explore, create and discover without predetermined rules or instructions. Remember your childhood days? You may not have had the abundance of games and toys that your children have these days, but what you had was the ample amount of time for unstructured play that helped you explore your environment and create our own games.
Here are a few important benefits of free play for children:
1) Imagination at play: Without any pre-set rules and instructions, free play allows kids to use their own imagination and come up with their own rule book.
2) Promotes Personal, Social and Emotional Development- During free play, children learn how to work in a team, among friends they learn how to take turns, they learn how to listen to others and develop their leadership skills.
3)Encourages children to take their own decisions– Because free play is driven by children themselves, they have the chance to learn on their own while playing alone or among friends, they learn how to evaluate a situation and make their own decisions.
4) Help children learn more about themselves: Since free play is child initiated, they learn to explore their creative side and understand their likes and dislikes better.
5) Fosters decision-making skills: Unstructured play provides many opportunities to make choices while playing alone or while playing in a group.
It is important to note that free play is a tool for developing a child as a whole and does not include time on gadgets. True free play is child-initiated, spontaneous and guided by the child’s imagination without the direction of an adult.