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Importance Of Free Play For Pre- Schoolers
by Ms. Heena | 19th November, 2015

Play is the cherished part of childhood that allows children to develop various skills and also gives the parents opportunity to engage with their children. Spending time together gives the child lot of different ways to learn. Free play can be the happiest part of their day.

Importance and Benefits of Free Play:

  • Healthy development of brain.
  • Development of creativity and imagination skills.
  • Cognitive, Physical, Social and Emotional development of the child.
  • Helps in learning, sharing & caring and working collaboratively.
  • Learning to take decisions and solving the problems.
  • Innovative ideas.
  • Development of language and communication skills.
  • Helps to build self-confidence.
  • Opportunity to think independently and learning to be entertained.
  • A group of children playing together in a team helps in meeting the daily physical activity requirement.

There are various types of play like unoccupied play, Solitary play, Onlooker play, Parallel play, Associate play, Cooperative play and so on...

Unoccupied play: Unoccupied play is mostly observed in newborn and infants where the child is not actually playing but reacts by showing some movements without any objective.

Solitary Play: Solitary play helps children to keep themselves entertained. The children who are shy prefer this play and it is mostly seen in toddlers between two to three years of age.

Onlooker Play: Onlooker Play is when a child observes the other child playing but does not react. The child may be shy or may be still trying to understand what’s happening.

Parallel Play: Parallel play is two kids having fun, playing side by side in their own world. The children engaged in parallel play learn quite a bit from one another like sharing, caring, and patience and often mimic each other.

Associate Play: In associate play, the children are more interested in each other rather than the toys. This develops a strong social interaction while they play.

Cooperative Play: In cooperative play, children play in a group with some objective.

Free Play demands freedom, time, space and variety of objects. In free play, everything depends on a child’s activity. He / She not only creates his / her play space but also chooses the play he / she wants to get involved in. The involvement varies according to a child’s mood, ability and physical condition. Through games children can learn concepts of Math and Science in a playful and better way. Playing helps the children in honing their listening and obeying skills.

Free play and Structured Play: Some Play activities are planned with some goals and objectives in mind. On basis of whether the child is free to play as he/ she likes or follows rules laid down will determine whether the play is free or structured.

Outdoor and Indoor Play: Games that are played in open are called outdoor play and games that are played inside are called indoor play. Outdoor games allow physical activity and freedom of movement.

Individual and group Play: When the child play by himself is referred as individual play. When the child plays with other children, it is referred as group play, Group play helps the child to develop social skills.

Vigorous and Quiet Play: Activities which require lot of energy are called vigorous play activities. Play activities that do not require too much of physical activity is called quiet play. Such activities can be scribbling with chalk, making objects from clay etc.

Play is fun. Any activity that a child finds enjoyable is play. Play is that activity in which participation is spontaneous and of the child’s own will. Child is not forced to participate and the participation is active. Play activities provides satisfaction to the children.

Following points show how Play can promote cognitive development, Imagination and creativity, Physical and motor development, social and emotional development:

Cognitive development: Children are curious by nature. Through play they get an opportunity to handle and examine objects and explore the surrounding. It also helps them to find answers to the questions in their minds and to understand the reason why things happen the way they do.

Imagination and Creativity: In this type, children imagine what it is to be like someone else- to feel, act, think, work and behave like them. For example, when a child is playing mother to a doll, she tells it that she cannot have sweets because it is harmful. This is exactly the explanation offered to a child by her mother when she had asked for the sweet. Thus, a child learns to behave appropriately by imitating someone. During play a child can be creative and do much more than otherwise. Play nurtures imagination, which helps the child to deal with day to day situations.

Physical and Motor Development: When children balance on bricks, jump over walls, climb steps, hang from bars, play games of chase and ride bicycles, there is coordination of their large muscles. Playing with a stick and digging holes with it in a ground, making a necklace by threading leaves, buttoning and zipping activities, beading and lacing, drawing and painting give the child practice for fine motor coordination.

Social Development: As the child plays with other children they learn to share, follow the rules of game and wait for his turn to play. Thus, the child begins to learn to take into consideration another person’s point of view. Through play they learn about different types of occupation, festivals, traditions and beliefs.

Emotional Development: Play provides opportunities to the child to express delight, joy, anger, fear and other emotions. It allows expression of feelings and emotions which may not be allowed in other situations. Play reflects the child’s mood and feelings. It helps him/her to work out his/her emotions.

All researchers agree that children learn through play and that play leads to development.