A mix of teacher directed and child directed activities help children to build upon skills to help them find balance in their daily life.
The benefits of free play are:
- Creativity. Children are able to use items in unique and interesting ways.
- Motor Skills. Children create and carry out ideas using large and fine motor skills.
- Decision Making. Unstructured play gives children the opportunity to make choices while playing alone or as a group.
- Independence. Children learn to entertain themselves and learn to play independently.
- Social skills. Children learn through communication and problem solving with peers.
Opportunities for children to indulge their creativity are dwindling as a result of a lack of imaginative playtime. Though there are many benefits that can be found with the use of Apps and education videos, those cannot replace a child’s imagination. Children learn many things through imagination and this is an essential skill when it comes to problem solving. Free play is one of the best ways to foster a child’s imagination and is done best with open ended toys and unstructured by adults. If you join in play with your child, it is best to follow their lead and allow them to use objects in unique and interesting ways.
Children practice fine motor skills during free play. Opening and closing various objects together and taking them apart. Building strength and dexterity in their hands is essential when it comes to writing skills in Kindergarten. Some children at this age may be reluctant to write or cut, it is far more beneficial for them to strengthen their hands with play-dough, opening and closing containers and squeezing spray bottles. Play in preschool provides a strong foundation upon entry into Kindergarten.
Children practice decision making when working together to solve a problem. In this image they are wanting to build a track, the children are communicating, problem solving and working together as a team. Essential skills that they need as they get older. If a teacher stepped in to solve the problem for them, they would not learn these valuable skills.
Children need to learn how to entertain themselves. They need to learn that it us ok to play alone if they choose and can learn many new things about themselves. They may discover a new toy or a new skill that maybe an older sibling has always done for them. Independent play is beneficial to allow them to make their own choices without outside influences.
We don’t always think about how important it is for children to solve their own problems with their peers. It helps them to learn to listen to each other and to have empathy for someone else. Social skills help them to not only think about themselves, but others as a group. They also benefit from learning new skills from others or a new way to use an item. Children at this age start to develop strong friendships with their peers. This friendships can be long lasting.
All images provide by Lavender Heart Photography