If you think that you are going to receive some juicy information regarding your child's fine and gross motor development, you are going to be disappointed. I am sure our children's physical muscles benefit from free play, but what I am talking about here is our child's emotional and imaginative muscle,and why this is so important to children's development.So many children's lives are filled with adult organized activities that time for free play is being squeezed out of existence. Why should you be concerned about this? Well simply stated the work of a child is play! And more importantly there should be ample portions of free, unstructured play,
Free Play offers our children wonderful opportunities to stretch and challenge their brains. Their creative muscles are developed when they come up with the rules and the roles of the games as they are playing. As in life unforeseen events may arise and obstacles and blocks cross their path. Persistence, and again Creativity is fostered through this experience. Can you remember when you were doing something you loved how your lost all sense of time. Also, the more you enjoyed what you were doing the less likely you would be to give up when the times got tough? You persisted right? And, so too with Free Play.
Another benefit of Free Play is the building of social skills as our children discover that playing fair encourages others to want to play with them. Certainly some of this happens in organized activities but not always. Sometimes team play may not be so fair, and even worse sometimes ugly behavior is tolerated because it is coming from an ace player who wins games for the team. A child can learn that if they are always Luke Skywalker or Princess Leila their friends will stop coming back to play with them.
When kids are designing their own play, good communications are essential. Studies have shown that children use more sophisticated language with their peers than with adults. In imaginative and fantasy play language has to be more detailed and concrete so the other players know what is being said, and what they need to do. A child cannot just say “take this it will protect you”. It would be more like "take this magic wand,tap it three times, and it will protect you against the giants spiders!
Yes, Free Play is a beautiful thing. Before I en I want to add o.ne more very important benefit. It allows children to build resiliency. According to Sergio M. Pellis, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge Alberta, Canada children lacking the opportunity for free, bold and rambunctious play will have difficulty dealing with a complex world. We do live in a complex world today and resiliency is an attribute that will serve our children well. Visit a College campus today, and you will hear administrators say over and over that todays crop of students are not able to deal with some of the everyday problems and frustrations of College life. Can't help but wonder are we seeing one of the end results of eliminating free paly opportunities to our children?