I recently attended a webinar with Lego where they were talking about the importance of play for children. One of the things all of the speakers focused on was how important free play is.
I found this definition of free play and I think it sums it up so perfectly.
Free play is unstructured, voluntary, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them. It is the spontaneous play that comes naturally from children’s natural curiosity, love of discovery, and enthusiasmSource
As parents we often try to get kids to play the way we want them to with the things we want them to play with. Guided play has a place too but free play is really where the magic happens.
Benefits of Free Play
- It builds confidence because it allows your child to explore and develop independently.
- They learn how to problem solve. When a child is playing and something goes wrong, they learn how to fix it and resolve the problem.
- Play allows them to work through emotional issues. Role play offers children the opportunity, unrestricted, to work through their feelings or conflicts.
- During play children learn social skills, group dynamics and resilience.
- Letting children just play allows them to find out what interests them. The more the are allowed to explore through play the more they will discover their interests.
Getting creative with free play at home.
We have been homeschooling for 2 years now and this means we have accumulated a lot of stationery, paper and arts and craft supplies. We finished with our formal Maths and English curriculums a while ago so we have been doing a lot more creative activities which made me realise how many bits and pieces we have lying around the house.
So I decided to collect a whole lot of little bits and bobs, put them in trays and got the kids to just create anything they wanted to. There were no rules. I did not get involved, unless they asked for help.
I find doing activities like this so interesting. You can see the different personalities of the kids really come through in how they approach it. Jack plans. He looks to see what he has, then plans something and executes. Then he is done. Emma, on the other hand, dives right in. She will start sticking and cutting and colouring and figure it out as she goes. She will make something, then make another thing which will lead her to making another thing.
One of Emma’s creations was this Christmas decoration. She was insanely proud of it and when we put our Christmas tree up it was the first thing she put on.
This activity is so easy to set up!
Look around your house, collect a few things your kids can use – things like buttons, bits of paper, toilet rolls, egg cartons, stickers, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, paints etc.
Once you have a collection of things, get your kids to create anything they want to. Don’t give them any other instructions other than to use what they can see (or find) to make anything they want to.
Sit back and watch them create anything they want to.
This is a fun activity to do during the holidays because it allows the kids to really just relax and enjoy being creative. For an extra bit of fun why not join in and make see what you can create from the items you have collected.