The Benefits of Free Play
What is Free Play?Free Play is allowing your child to choose what they’d like to discover, minus the adult intervention; It is also commonly known as unguided play. Un-scheduled play is vital for the healthy development of children, as it allows your child the freedom to choose and explore their own particular interests. My Happy Helpers strongly supports the use of open-ended free play and our range is designed to help provide parents with a large range of open-ended ‘toys’ and activities.
Give your child time for independence
In an effort to provide the most for our children, we often over-structure their lives. With every spare moment being planned for - sports, hobbies and family activities - often leaving little, if any time for self growth. Free play allows your child to seek an independent activity and develop on the individual skills that are important to them.
Free Play builds cognitive thinking
Free play helps with creativity, problem-solving, decision making and the development of gross motor skills. When your child decides to do something and is allowed to play out the situation, they are learning key structures to develop their cognitive thinking. Your child can clearly see the result of their actions and therefore decide if they are happy with the consequences - positive or negative. The understanding of actions and consequences will help to build your child’s confidence in their own decision-making abilities.
Gaining social skills through Free Play
When children play together they are developing social skills. Many children take turns in playing leader and follower positions and this helps them to discover where they fit best in the world. Children often create their own game rules, which usually make little sense to an adult, but these rules can be vastly important to the participants. As fundamentally social creatures, understanding how to work within a group is a vital lesson for our little ones to learn.
We need to remember that the best free play is unplanned or unstructured. Avoiding toys such as electronic devices, things with flashing lights or noise and avoiding anything battery operated. Electronics offer no benefit to toddlers aged 12-24 months. Instead look towards experimenting with creative objects, reading, playing outside, painting, playing with dolls or making music. Leave the choice up to your little one and you will be rewarded by seeing their minds take full flight into the unknown.
For more open-ended free play ideas, have a look at our range of Montessori inspired toys.