The Importance of Free Play in Child Development
While offering guidance and support is important for helping your kids learn about the world and develop healthy habits and skills, sometimes kids need to just let loose to play without restriction. Free play is when kids don’t have an adult or authority figure leading them in some sort of activity or enforcing guidelines that they must adhere to. Instead, the kids are in total control of making their own decisions. To expand on this idea further, let’s learn about the importance of free play in child development.
When left to their own devices, kids learn how to interact with others. The most basic of these skills is figuring out who they get along with and who they don’t. Getting along with like-minded kids is easy, but the real lessons are made through interacting with kids who they don’t get along with as well. While you should always step in when kids go too far, learning how to compromise and tolerate others you disagree with is an important skill. Allowing kids to figure out their differences without being told how will help them develop important skills, such as how to cooperate and handle confrontation or competition.
Free play is also the ideal time for kids to refine their fine and gross motor skills and learn how their body works or what their limits do. School and community playgrounds are immensely helpful tools in this regard because they offer varied experiences such as climbing, jumping, and swinging. It’s also a great opportunity for kids to expel all that boundless energy they have and stay in shape. This is also more effective than a gym class because fun is a powerful motivator. Being told to do something isn’t nearly as enticing as running around simply because you want to.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of all regarding the importance of free play in child development is the ability to solve problems. If there isn’t an adult or authority for them to depend on, kids will learn how to take on the mantle of leadership and experiment with different ways to solve a problem. This is crucial for helping kids gain a sense of independence and autonomy as they grow up. Additionally, it’ll make your child more responsible and reliable if they can tackle the challenges they face throughout their life.