“Go out to play!’ is a phrase that is probably used more commonly now than ever before, in a world where children are bound to their gadgets for hours on end. It’s in their early years that we must encourage them to play more. It is through this very act of ‘playing’, that they interact with, and understand, the world around them.
It’s important here to stress on making more time for ‘Free Play’. What exactly does that mean, you might ask?
What Free Play is All About
Free Play, simply put, is when children have the freedom to play in whatever manner they like. Depending on the type of play they choose, kids can express themselves in the manner they see fit, depending on the place, time and situation.
The importance of free play cannot be reiterated enough, because every child is different and hence deserves the opportunity to express their creativity in a manner unique to them. So, are you ready to find out all about the magnificent benefits Free Play for toddlers provides?
The Importance of Free Play
That 2 year old curriculum is incomplete without a fair share of Free Play, because there are more benefits Free Play for toddlers brings, than meets the eye. Let’s find out why it is essential we gently nudge our children to play every now and then, be it at home or in the outdoors.
Free Play is vital for the sound development of the brain. As children explore, they form new connections and pathways in the brain. This is significant, as the brains of children are processing at double the speed of adults’ brains and all that early Free Play will determine how many neurons are formed, and those that aren’t.
It helps them become independent individuals
Another vital reason that a 2 year old preschool curriculum should include a good amount of free play, is because it teaches children to keep themselves entertained on their own. In the process, it leads to them becoming independent individuals. Free Play allows them to discover what they are interested in and what they are adept at doing.
It hones their Creativity
When you leave a child to play free, you are encouraging them to think ‘out of the box’, with a view to devising really cool ways of keeping themselves entertained. Even when applied to activities that have been tried and tested over the ages, this gives them an ‘edge’. For instance, they can take their visual creativity skills to the next level while creating art!
It helps them become Social Creatures
That 2 year old curriculum must have Free Play at the top of the list. One good reason is that it helps kids sharpen their social skills. This is especially important in today’s world, where there is decreased social interaction on account of people’s worlds being predominantly virtual. Free Play lets children regulate their emotions and be aware of other people’s feelings. It also goes a long way in helping them work as a team.
When children are exposed to a good amount of Free Play, their planning skills get sharpened. Whether it’s a matter of building a house with Lego, or simply sticking a picture on a piece of paper in the right place, a certain amount of planning needs to be done. This vital skill of planning is constantly sharpened during Free Play, and will go a long way in helping them plan their work logically and within a given timeframe, in the future. Thus, it will be greatly beneficial to them in later years.
It helps them cool down
One thing about 2 year olds is this: they are constantly prone to having meltdowns. In that regard, that 2 year old curriculum will make a difference only if it incorporates a good amount of Free Play. When children are frustrated, there’s nothing that will quite help them simmer down, like good old Free Play.
Enhanced Motor Development
When it comes to reading and writing, guess what skills come into play? You guessed it right! Motor skills are developed when the large and small muscles of toddlers are exercised through activities like walking and running, climbing and even moulding playdough. It’s especially important to develop these motor skills in today’s day and age, when too much screen time is resulting in children suffering academically as a result of underdeveloped motor skills.
Free Play Activities for Preschoolers
Here are some really cool Free Play activities that will make your child want to play at every single opportunity they get.
- Simon Says. This classic game is great in helping children hone their listening skills and focus. If you’re not already initiated with the game, it goes like this: You say something like ‘Simon Says touch your nose’. Accordingly, the person listening to ‘Simon’ has to touch their nose. If the child performs an action when ‘Simon Says’ is not before the instruction, they are out!
- Egg Walk. Put a hardboiled egg in a tablespoon and tell your toddler they have to walk with it without the egg falling out. Great for working on their balance and dexterity.
- Nature Walk. Simply go out for a walk with your little one and observe things like the clouds, trees and even little insects that might be scurrying along in your paths.
- Tag. One of the most fun games, this one. One person has to be ‘It’. The others have to catch them and ‘tag’ them. Then ‘they’ are ‘It’. And so on.
- Follow The Leader. The leader has to do all sorts of movements that the others have to follow. The sillier the movements, the more fun the game!
Free Play forms a most important component of the curriculum at EuroKids. We know just how important it is in shaping children to become well-rounded, better versions of themselves. Duly, we ensure they have plenty of free play activities to indulge in, that can assist their development while they enjoy themselves.