Parents nowadays ensure a packed schedule for children what with adult-supervised, adult-driven activities such as sports, camps, and hobby classes. What do kids like however? They like running happily on a grassy field. According to many studies and as grandma wisdom would say, kids need some free and unstructured play time, which is critical to their healthy development. Unstructured play time is important for cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of a child.
Benefits of unstructured and free play
There are many reasons why children need some “away” time from adults and other structured activities. Here are some of them.
- It helps in brain development in a child.
- When children play freely, they learn to play collaboratively, share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and self-advocacy skills
- With some time to themselves, children learn decision-making, can move at their own pace, and find out what interests them.
- With adult-driven activities, children need to follow set rules and conditions, (such as winning). They lose out on more important life lessons such as leadership and recognizing that it is more important to volunteer and participate.
- Unscheduled time enables peer interaction which is extremely essential for the social and emotional growth of a child
- When children are free, they are more creative and not under any external pressure.
- Kids will learn to value silence. Unless the child gets hurt or is about to, it is better to not interfere in their free time.
Parents need to learn how to say no to kids. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty and worry that if you don’t do everything for your child, they may suffer and feel deprived or lag behind others. Sometimes the best thing a parent can do for a child is nothing and let them remain the free birds they are.