Science agrees: kids need play.
Historically, children have participated in ample amounts of unstructured, unscheduled, and even – gasp- unsupervised play. All that changed when education initiatives, after school programs, and modern-day parenting standards forced children to give up more and more of their free time. Now, researchers are coming out with claims that play is essential to the well being and development of children.
You probably already know that regular physical activity can help children avoid obesity and other health issues. However, did you know that free play can also improve a child’s performance in school? Scientists have found that children concentrate and behave better after attending recess. Free play also empowers children to overcome their fears. What’s more, it can help them regulate their moods and develop confidence.
Play (without a mobile device in hand) also allows children to explore the world around them and make enriching personal decisions. These moments of empowerment dramatically improve a child’s ability to socialize and communicate with their peers. According to a recent study, children need to participate in authentic social situations to develop empathy and learn how to control their emotions. Play gives children a healthy opportunity to redirect their adrenaline.
Researchers have pointed out the undeniable connection between play and a child’s social, physical, and emotional well being. For this reason, many parents and educators advocate for more free time.
These ideas may prompt some caregivers to reconsider the restrictions they place on their children. With the media adding to our paranoia and preconceptions, we must take a step back and examine our own lives to decide what works best for our children. Studies show that allowing children to play outside by themselves leads to positive results. However, allowing kids to go out alone requires us to let go of the reins.
Contrary to popular belief, lack of direction prompts children to make positive decisions. When children are free to make their own choices, they tend to be more motivated and independent.
Muddy Smiles has compiled a list of 21 evidence-based benefits of play for you to explore. Check them out in the infographic below.