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Benefits of free-play for children

12/03/2024 - Nos babysitters créatives

For a few years, professors, school assistants, education researchers around the world have been recommending the benefits of free play for children



fillette et bébé jouent avec leur nounou Mômji


What’s free play? 



The concept might appear logical because children usually do it automatically. Free play allows children to play in their own way and not with a prepared activity: they play in complete autonomy


Syeda Sazia Zaman, expert of children’s development and education tells about free play: “they can choose everything - they have the liberty to select their toys, their interests and even the plot”. 


Nevertheless, parents keep pushing children to reach developmental and educational steps younger. For example, they register them to courses preparing them for school at a very young age. 



Why is free play important? 


Free play is seen as a solution to withstand different organisms and people pushing for a constant education, who need children to always learn faster. 


In this world, we can observe this phenomenon in several countries and cultures like the USA: some students take courses in Advanced Placement classes (AP classes) to earn credits for university while they still are in high-school. 


In South Korea, it starts way earlier in private schools named “hagwon”. Children study several subjects, like English or maths after their school schedule. Students from 3 years old sometimes finish their school day at 10 PM


After a day like this, children have no time to rest or play freely. 



The benefits of free play 



Children can learn without being in school classes. They acquire a lot of skills when they can play without rules… something important for their adult future. 


Play independently represents a lot of advantages for your child’s growth: 


Independence is one of the main benefits because children decide what they want to do and when. They even choose their own rules and learn at their proper rhythm. 


It improves and develops their decision making skills


By supervising their playing time, children are facing their own consequences. If the child has the choice between all its toys, decide to play with cubes and its brother with the cars, he/she has to be sure of their own choice. 


Free play is also essential to develop their problem solving skills. During a game, they can try to solve difficulties they face: If the child’s playing with blocks and everything falls apart, he/she can think about a way to solve this problem on their own, without the help of an adult to continue to play.


Free play can be implemented either outdoor or indoor, as long as children are safe. If they are at the park, they can choose their area/game : swings, picking up leaves, playing with their friends… 


It is perfect for them to work on their motor skills and develop their stamina and strength



How can adults help children to play freely ? 



Even though free play seems instinctive, adults can push children further to enjoy free play!


The only adults in a child’s life aren’t just their parents. There are other adults that can influence their choices and growth: teachers, nanny, school assistant…


Free play puts freedom on the forefront but as mentioned before, the first priority remains the safety of the child


Here are some advices to encourage free play

  •  choose a moment of the day to play
  •  offer open toys that can be played with different ways
  •  restrict screen time
  •  let the child be bored
  •  offer activities without forcing one
  •  let the child encounter their own issues (only help them if they asks)
  •  play with the child and become their game fellow 


If you’re looking for activities to do at home, here is our article on activities to do indoor


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