Why a Lack of Free Time (Free play) could be Hurting your Children.
Is Free time a thing of the past?
Ask yourself this question: How much free time do I have per day? Likely, as a parent the first response is: None.
We’d all love some free time to stop, relax, and process things.
Next ask: How much free time do my children have? Are their lives too scheduled to enjoy a little free play time? While it’s important for children to pursue hobbies, special interests, and group activities;
it’s also important for children to enjoy some free time to apply what they’ve learned in fun, creative ways.
Fact is, free time can drastically improve not only physical and mental health in adults, but children also benefit from free play.
Sure, scheduling play dates and group activities with other kids is great
for them to develop socially and emotionally, but can scheduling too much of their life be hurting them?
How does a lack of Free Play affect children?
- Scheduled activities don't allow for children to enjoy any free time.
- While sports and other activities help build character, team play, & socialization, they downplay independent critical thinking and creativity
- Families focus more on schedules, rather than enjoying time together.
- Scheduling too much creates a “rush mentality,” stressing parents and children
Like any adult, children need to feel that they have time to relax and make their own choice in activities to do.
Allowing them a block of free play time each day (or a few times a day)promotes creativity, character, and independence (READ MORE ABOUT the importance of these below).
Free Play benefits:
- Allows children’s brains to process and apply what they’ve learned from other activities
- Example: Pretending to teach dolls to play soccer. Playing school with their friends or parents.
- It becomes important: kids look forward to having free time each day.
- Example: Kids enjoy recess at school because it gives them time to be with friends, relax, and burn off energy.
- Allows for Creativity to blossom. Children create their own fun; using imagination and multiple items/toys together.
- Free Play/time makes people happy. Creates stronger bonds with children
- Example: Weekends: People are happier on the weekends. Why? Fewer schedules, and people get to choose what they want to do, and with whom.
- More playtime could lead to better academic results
- Example: Open physical play (playground) — spinning, turning upside down, jumping, and climbing help children develop their balance system faster. Body awareness, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strength, etc.
Developing these also allows for brain development which helps them learn more efficiently and succeed in the classroom.
If you make it a point to schedule free time for children, make sure they spend it doing something that matters (and not watching TV, or playing video games).
A small period of time (half hour – 1 hour) each day to connect and let your child direct the activity
will allow them to use their creativity, give them independence, and unwind.
Eventually, your child will look forward to this time. If he or she does, this is time well spent.
"Time spent playing with Children is never wasted.”
~Dawn Lantero, author of S.P.L.A.S.H. Parenting Principles
CHARACTER, CREATIVITY, & INDEPENDENCE at KidsFirst
At KidsFirst, we run a structured program to help children hit their milestones. Each day, Free Play time is scheduled to allow them to interact with each other and develop
physically, socially and emotionally. While also stimulating their creativity, building character, and allowing for independence.
Our core values include “learning by doing” and “play-based learning.” Those two things can only happen when children are given the time to freely play, and interact with their fellow classmates.