IMPORTANCE OF FREE PLAY
Playing is the basic key to children’s well-being, development, confidence, and learning. Free play means giving freedom to children to play whatever and where ever they want to. It encourages a child to explore and learn on their own and helps children to be more expressive. It gives a sense of independence to the child as they become more creative by playing themselves.
When a child plays alone he tries to engage, imagine, and be independent which is beneficial for their coming life. It also helps the child to learn problem-solving skills on their own as they try to come up with their solutions while playing, and expresses their way of thinking. Free play helps children to boost their confidence and let them understand how the world around them works and develop their physical, social, and communication skills.
Free play could be unstructured or structured. Unstructured free play is unplanned and depends upon the child’s moods on time whereas structured play is the fixed and organized play often led by adults. Unstructured free play helps the children to use their imagination and get creative accordingly, whereas structured play is always led by a grown up and the child needs assistance to be a part of it.
Unstructured play is crucial to enhance the cognitive skills of a child as it includes creative and imaginative games. It can also turn a child into an explorer who is always in rush to discover the cupboards, backyards, or parks. Whereas structured play is all about adult assistance or involvement such as outdoor games, board, or card games.
The physical skills and attention span of a child develop with their growth, they get more creative and experimental over time. The child goes through different forms of play as they get older, this includes playing alone, playing with other children, or playing interactively with others.
Children need time and space to play and when they are given enough time and space without restrictions, they can reach the extent heights of their imagination and bring out more creative ideas.
Parents’ involvement and their relationship with the child always matter, they should not be too strict with the child or bound him, and instead, they need to develop effective parenting skills to maintain the balance in the relationship with the child. They need to know when and where to create boundaries, how to encourage the child, and when to discourage the child, and this will be helpful for them to raise a child without getting him spoiled. If the parents fail at their parenting skills, then the distance between them and the child develops.
Giving free play time doesn’t mean letting the child do what they want to do. Parents have the right to keep a record of their child’s activities and to get involved and direct them whenever needed. Remember that, your presence is everything that a child needs to feel secure and maintain a healthy relationship with you.