The Importance of Free Play

Violet taking Big Rupert and Little Rupert on a Train Ride

A lot of research and articles exist talking about the value of free play for kids. The Ontario Kindergarten curriculum highlights it’s new play-based program, IKEA has done extensive research studies discussing the importance of play for families and child development in their Play Report and this article published just a few days ago called “Busy kids need free play, warns experts” covers the subject once again.

The key line in this entire article for me is what is described as the result of an overly scheduled child:

“Tiredness, anxiety disorders leading to depression and eating disorders, obesity, and a lack of initiative and creativity are the downsides to an over-scheduled life.”

That’s scary. Especially considering that’s the result of parents thinking that they’re doing a lot of good for their kids? Talk about good intentions back firing. Ouch.

It’s so easy to get carried away signing kids up for this sports program or that art or music class and I do feel there’s a lot of value to doing so, BUT in the last few months I’ve really started to see the value in letting free play happen or in other words providing time where we’re not doing anything which results in a ton of imaginative play that I wouldn’t have even thought of.  It absolutely amazed me to see what Violet does with that free time where she just PLAYS. She starts to sing; she’ll talk in a sing song to her bears; she takes them on adventures in pretend cars or trains; she picks up her play piano and decide that she must put on her ballet leotard and shoes in order to dance – can’t dance without the outfit!

As much as I value exposing her to all sorts of new experiences, places, arts and sports activities, I’m just loving observing how she fills that time in between.