The importance of Free Play has been well researched, and it plays a crucial role in child development. But why?
Healthy brain development is reliant on Free Play, because by using their creativity, children develop imagination, agility, cognitive and physical abilities. Those skills, in turn, support children in their academic learning.
Many studies, including the following excerpt from a paper published by NCBI, back these research findings:
“In play, children learn to navigate their physical and social environment, while also imagining and constructing new realities. They practice solving problems, testing out how to love, what is wise, and what is safe. One study found that, neurologically, play can stimulate the “fight or flight” response without triggering cortisol (the stress chemical usually accompanying fight or flight) — a useful way to practice handling danger.”
Free Play can be described as “unstructured, child-initiated activity that allows children to develop their imagination 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 enthusiasm”.
Examples of free play include dressing up, creating stories with toys, drawing and painting, making a den, role playing, creating new games, building Lego – and anything else that derives from a child’s imagination.
How does Free Play benefit child development?
- Encourages creativity
- Develops decision-making and problem solving skills
- Fosters independence by teaching children to think for, and entertain, themselves
- Develops motor planning skills, helping the child to create and carry out ideas and activities
- Develops collaborative social skills, teamwork, compassion and kindness
- Provides an opportunities for children to discover their interests and skills
It’s a well-known fact that children are highly motivated to play! As they’re growing up, it’s important to provide a caring environment that allows children to explore academic and social concepts freely.
Almost all cognitive and physical learning and development comes through play, and the more access given to Free Play, the more a child’s way of playing will grow in complexity.
So, how do we apply this at Wild.Kind.? The importance of Free Play is key to our structure. We ensure that children have lots of time to move, explore, use their motor skills and interact through Free Play. We believe that by having the freedom to do these things, children will have richer experiences in their childhood. And if they are happy beings, they will better be ready for school and all the exciting challenges that come with growing up. Find out more in our philosophy.
“The ultimate end of education is not a perfection in the accomplishments of the school, but fitness for life; not the acquirement of habits of blind obedience, and of prescribed diligence, but a preparation for independent action.”
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi