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Copyright © 2014 Learning and Exploring Through Play - All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.

The Importance of Free Play

Play Free

Through Play children have the ability to learn anything and everything they could possibly want to and much, much more. Allowing children the freedom to play has a huge positive impact on their overall development. Whilst playing children connect with the world around them, their peers and other adults.

Allowing children to play freely, to select their tools, their toys, their topics and to give them the time to explore, create and learn is under threat. 
Children follow complex time tables displayed in their classrooms. Time tables that indicate what to expect in the day that lies ahead. Play has been institutionalised into routine and structure. Not only that but overuse of passive entertainment (technology) is also taking over the free time children have to play.

Some children are hurried along to adapt and prepare for their future at much earlier ages. Often these children aren't quite ready and these changes can impact on a child's stress and anxiety levels.

Play Free

Every child is unique. Every child has their own strengths and weakness'. They have their areas of interest and they have their own unique thinking processes. Just like us as adults. 
Children are very capable of leading their own learning through play with very little help from us. 

Through observation and discussions we can learn how our children process their thoughts and challenges. We can learn what they are interested in and how much understanding they have.

Next time your children are off playing just take a moment to listen. Listen to their language. Watch their actions. Observe how they use different materials to represent something completely different. It may look as though they are 'just occupying themselves' but actually they are learning and making sense of the world around them. They learn new skills and develop existing ones.

With as little materials and resources as possible children have the ability to use a very powerful tool - their imagination. It takes them to new places, it gives them new feelings and thoughts. A child's imagination is quite simply pure magic. Time to play, time to explore and imagine is critical for growth.

"Playing is a way of building and shaping the regions of the brain that concern emotion, motivation and reward, and developing a range of flexible responses across a number of adaptive systems that link the brain, the body and the social and physical environment" (Burghardt 2005)

Take an empty box for an example. From one child to the next that empty box would go on to represent something totally different during their play. Whether its a rocket launching into space, a crib for their baby or a car to drive to the seaside - that same box becomes a stepping stone to aid their play. Something so simple, turns into something amazing in their minds.

Encouraging and allowing children to play is the best that we can do for them.

 Play England defines Free Play as –
…children choosing what they want to do, how they want to do it and when they want to stop and try something else. Free Play has no external goals set by adults and has no adult imposed curriculum. Although adults usually provide the space and resources for Free Play and might be involved, the child takes the lead and the adults respond to cues from the child.”

Play Free

This also leads me to discuss toys. How open ended are the toys your children play with?
For example if a toy has a button, the child needs to press the button to operate it. It's simple and the play and learning is limited. 

Blocks, dolls, small world items can promote learning in many ways. Children can problem solve, experiment, create, design and imagine. Through open ended toys children develop their cognitive skills brilliantly. The more ways a child can explore and play with a toy, the more opportunities there are for successful learning.

Play Free

Child hood is precious and it passes by so quickly. Getting it right lays the foundations for success in later life. It has been proved time and time again.
Play builds a sturdy foundation for a lifetime of learning.

So whether you children enjoy making, drawing, building or running - rest assured that giving them time to do what they enjoy doing is giving them the best you possibly could.

Play Free

It is an absolute pleasure to be supporting Petits Filous with their, just launched Play Free Campaign. Yogurts and Fromage Frais contain calcium, but not all of them have Vitamin D.
Sun light is the main source of Vitamin D, but during the Winter months for example - it can be difficult for children to get enough Sun.
Luckily Petits Filous are fortified with it and contain 50% of the recommended daily allowance!

Play Free

I have always brought Petits Filous for my children. I love that they also have the pouches - perfect for on the go families.

Over the next few weeks we will be doing the 'Let Them be Bored Challenge'. We will be discussing with parenting expert and co-Founder of The Positive Parenting Project - Anita Cleare, as the challenge unfolds. It will be refreshing and fun to encourage the children to have fun and let their imagination guide their play.

We look forward to sharing with you how our children get on when given the time and space to lead their own play, next month.

What do your children enjoy doing during Free Play?

Image Map

I am working with Petits Filous and BritMums promoting the #PetitsFilousPlayFree campaign. Sharing the importance of free play for our children.

Other posts to check out on Learning and Exploring Through Play:

I love you to pieces Suncatcher Card    Melted Snowman Family    Rainbow Streamer Craft

Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Sensory Winter Play for Preschoolers

Mark Making with Kinetic Sand    Plastic Easter Egg Art Ideas    Space Themed Sensory Play Small World

Learning Through Play
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  1. Really interesting about open-ended toys. I hadn't really thought about it before, but it makes so much sense that a toy they can find many uses for, it more stimulating.

  2. I really like this idea of time -- giving your children the *time* to explore and play and not hurrying them through the process. We get in such a rush these days!

  3. So important to just let our children be bored and see what happens! Love the pic of your daughter at the doll's house. Just lovely!

  4. Love this, I am with you on toys being open-ended. I’ve been gradually switching a lot of our children’s toys so that they have a much less structured environment to play in :)

  5. Totally agree about cardboard boxes - I think my kids play with them longer than any 'real' toy! They love drawing on them or turning them into boats or cars.

  6. I haven't tried the Petits Filous pouches yet, and I'm looking forward to giving those a go. They sound so handy!

  7. We also love free play at home. It is great to see how our kids use their imagination to entertain themselves so easily. My girls find boxes also very amusing! They can play with it for hours. It is so interesting to see how simple things can be the most fun for hour kids.

  8. It is such a fun campaign and we are really enjoying the challenge

  9. Mine love nothing more than heading outside and finding sticks and doing battle, or building dens

  10. My two tend to love the boxes more than the contents inside of them! I think because our lives are now so structured we pass this onto our children without realising. So they miss the opportunity to find out for themselves. Looking forward to seeing your ideas in the next post.

  11. We love Petits Filous, they're so great. Free play is so important, it's amazing to see what world kids make when they lead the play all by themselved.

  12. Anonymous14/2/18 11:48

    Free Play is so important, we do as much as possible in our house.

  13. We do lots of free play - it is so important to us all

  14. Such a fab post - I think that we often forget about free and child lead play. Especially at home. We are keen to script our children’s lives. I did a parenting course and it recommended just 10 minutes of child lead free play with parent participation if the child wanted and it was transformational for my relationship with Mini

  15. I love this. Look forward to seeing the challenge.

  16. Replay it’s just that the freedom for the child to take direction of its own play my importantly its own learning children’s days are full of structure the child does not often get to make many choices this is a valuable article which brings it home to me as an early years provider the importance of free play and observing this

  17. As a mum and teacher I am passionate about free play. Such a great post!

  18. You nailed it. Free play SO important and I think as adults it's OUR challenge to slow family life down while the rest of the world whizzes by ... I read this article of Janet Lansbury that calls it "wants for nothing time" when children just like to hang out with you, play and simply know you are there. Love it. And my kids like that yoghurt too btw! What a great campaign.

  19. Great post! Free play is good for everyone. There’s so much pressure for everything to be structured and purposeful, rather than just be

  20. I really struggle with this concept. I really need to research free play more as like your post highlights its mlre important than i think most of us give credit for.

    I have taken a look at the early years framework - my children are 1, 2 and 4 and i was really taken back at how all the learning can pretty much be observed from children playing. I was expecting them to be mjch more advanced which shows how out of touch i am.

    Thank you for this article, its another stepping stone for me to changing the way i view play.

  21. Anonymous14/2/18 21:00

    I love this post on free play. I am so passionate about child led play and allowing children to be creative and imaginative in their own way.

  22. This has been such a big help always worry my kids arent learning when they play! Just what I needed to be reassured. Thank you!

  23. Love this! Thanks for sharing! ~mari


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