Based on a study, unstructured play has been declining, despite the benefits of free play. Stress on the importance of structured play led to lower levels of free and unstructured play in children worldwide. Communities place a significant value on organized activities such as sports, clubs, and music or language lessons.
Parents who engage with social media platforms find that they are highly influenced to be involved in their children's after-school activities and discouraged from letting them have unstructured play. However, studies show that there are benefits of free play and unstructured play.
During unstructured play, parents connect more favorably with their children, and they display less negativity. In turn, their children were more engaged, attentive, and showed more complex language, one of the benefits of free play. Additional studies also show how unstructured play builds up creativity in children, one of the benefits of free play.
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COVID-19 pandemic and free play
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and teachers are rediscovering the benefits of free play.
A recent survey of 67 parents of 79 children between the ages of 3 and 10 was conducted. In that survey, 37 of the children were asked how their play was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both parents and children mentioned the cancellation of some of their structured activities such as sports and lessons. There are also new activities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as walking, hiking, and biking.
Less than half of the parents felt that COVID-19 has led to a decrease in a structured activity. They believe that it harms their children. But a lot of them admit that CVID-19 led to them feeling less stress since they did not have to be in so many places at certain times.
Benefits of free play
When it comes to the benefits of free play, here are the following:
Helps with stress and anxiety
Because unstructured play stirs up a risk-taking level, it is the perfect opportunity for children to get these experiences under their belts.
Encourage expression of view, experiences, and frustrations
Unstructured play provides us with a window into the minds of children. It is a great way to express themselves safely, both to their parents and to themselves, and what they are feeling.
May lead to children knowing their interests and life passions
Free play allows children to nurture their own interests and desires so that structured play or schedules do not.
Without the structure of pre-planned events, activities, and lessons, children will experience and find ways to get over their boredom. Where that takes them could be something they fall in love with for life.
Inspires exploration of the world
Strong bonds within families are vital, but teaching children how to play away from their parental figures. Kids need to stretch their independence to explore their world confidently, and free play is a great way for them to do so.
Grows and nurtures friendship
Unstructured play can foster healthy relationships with both a child's peers and the adults in their lives. It also teaches them how to socialize. Hence they will be able to build relationships and friendships at such a young age.
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