9 reasons why free play is invaluable for kids

Free Play is truly the best for kids - Parenting by ZenParent

Clearing toys is a big exercise for me, especially during vacations and weekends, as the house is strewn with toys. Make-believe stethoscopes and medicines from the Doctor-set, tiny-weenie cups and saucers from the kitchen set, skating boards and snapit balls rolling away; this is what my house looks like, most of the time.What gives satisfaction is the fact that children are playing happily!

As quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American writer, “It is a happy talent to know how to play”.

Meeting up in each other’s house, or playing all by themselves, stepping out to the neighbourhood park or playing down in the building, these are some of the most precious take-aways from childhood. My memory of playing under the guava tree outside my house with my best buddies still brings a smile on my face and will always remain a great stress-buster for me. The almost heroic tryst that l I once had when I fell from that tree, the blood that emerged, the five stitches to sew up the cut, has motivated me through several escapades later in life.

Activities supervised and conducted by adults, like an organised sports teach children several abilities, but it is essential to balance this with free, unstructured play for healthy child development. Free play is very important, for the following reasons:

why free play is important for kids- Parenting resources by ZenParent

1. Overall Development

While it is well known that play is important for healthy physical development, many studies conducted by several pediatric groups also suggest that free, unstructured play is essential for the intellectual, emotional and social well-being of every kid.

2. Nurtures Life Skills

When children play together, they learn to share, take turns, resolve conflicts and work collaboratively. Letting children play by themselves gives them opportunity to cope with several kid size challenges and teaches them numerous essential life skills.

3. Expands Learning

Play is not just fun for children; it is the way they learn. Pretend play, playing with make-believe toys, being under control of what they do, all of this gives children an occasion learn about themselves, people around them, their environment, and the world at large.

Kids should play outdoors and freely- Parenting resources by ZenParent

4. Develops Thinking Ability

“Does this car move backwards too?”, “What is this kit made of”, “What is inside the doll to make these sounds?” These are all the questions that the tiny minds mull over, as they happily indulge with their precious toys. When children come up with these questions, parents can tap the opportunity to encourage them to think and guide them towards the right answers.

5. Improves Creativity

“Mommy, I’m bored” is something we hear ever so often. One way of dealing with it is engaging them by playing with them, which is great, but when we encourage children to come up with something on their own to occupy themselves, they can get really creative and surprise you with something you never knew about them.

6. Hones Social Skills

While playing, children meet and often make friendships that last a lifetime! There would be many of us grown-ups vouching for this. Some of the best friends we all have date back to our childhood days and we oh-so cherish them!

free play is good for kids for their overall development- Parenting resources by ZenParent

7. Releases Stress

With a lot being written and said about the “over-scheduled” child, free play can be a huge stress buster. A healthy inclusion of free open ended play with no learning objective, no instructions to follow and pressure to prove oneself can help raise a happy, stress-free child.

8. Aids Health Benefits

Free play in outdoor spaces like parks and gardens is vital as it nurtures wholesome physical development like gross motor skills, muscle strength and co-ordination. Exposure to fresh air and Vitamin D also ensures stronger bones and it is the best way to ward off obesity.

For poor eaters, all the physical activity outdoors works up a good appetite. Keep a healthy snack ready after playtime and watch your little one gobble it down without a fuss!

9. Ensures Success in Adulthood

A team of psychologists in Germany recently conducted a survey that reveals that people who recall having plenty of free time during childhood enjoy high levels of social success as adults. The survey states that free play allows children to develop the flexibility needed to adapt to changing circumstances and environments—an ability that comes in very handy when life becomes unpredictable as an adult – As quoted in Pacific Standard, an American Magazine, http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/value-unstructured-play-time-kids-81177.

free play with kids and help them get happier- Parenting resources by ZenParent

On this note, let us vehemently encourage our children toheartily indulge in free-play, giving them the opportunity to explore the world, the way they understand best!

Image resource: via Google Images

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