Unstructured Play Time:


Please note that the title doesn’t say unsupervised, it only says unstructured.

When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain. It’s the same with our children. When they come into the world, they are already ready to explore with their unlimited curiosity and imagination. Stifling those urges can have consequences. Read along.

There’s no doubt that play time for children releases endorphins and builds social skills. And there’s no better time to be a child in the world. Safety standards have gone up and our general quality of life as parents has improved.

Yet, our children are not playing. As such, petitions for the inclusion of recess for high schoolers are circulating in some public schools in America, but change has been slow to come.



Parents Of The World:


Danish parents are labeled as the best parents on the planet earth. And turns out all they just need to do is let children enjoy downtime on their own. Get outside and explore your world with a group of kids of different ages. That’s their mantra.

When children are in charge of their own free time, it gives them a sense of autonomy and a boost in their self-esteem.




Play is timeless, it knows no constraint. In every real man a child is hidden who wants to play. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche



Kids Need Play – No Matter What It Looks Like:


Read more HERE.




The Power of Play:


The paper, The Power Of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, discusses the important role of play in promoting the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a prosocial brain.

Here’s an excerpt:

Play is fundamentally important for learning 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, and creativity, which require the executive functioning skills that are critical for adult success.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has enshrined the right to engage in play that is appropriate to the age of the child in Article 21.12 In its 2012 exhibit “The Century of the Child: 1900–2000,” the Museum of Modern Art noted, “Play is to the 21st century what work was to industrialization. It demonstrates a way of knowing, doing, and creating value.”

The benefits of play are extensive and well documented and include improvements in executive functioning, language, early math skills (numerosity and spatial concepts), social development, peer relations, physical development and health, and enhanced sense of agency. The opposite is also likely true; [neuroscientist and psychologist Jaak] Panksepp suggested that play deprivation is associated with the increasing prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Source: Pediatrics (2018) 142 (3): e20182058.



1000 Hours Outside: An Instagram Post:




Teaching Your Child About Feelings:


Pow! Bam! Take That! And That! As you watch your child playact a battle between two action figures, your impulse might be to stop this aggressive play. But this is very typical for the toddler years. Play is the perfect time for children to work out strong feelings, even difficult ones like anger, frustration, or fear. Watching children as they play, and playing with them, helps you understand what they are thinking about or struggling with.

You can also get insight into where they need a little support and how you can help them make sense of the world around them. If an upsetting play theme continues for a while or you are worried about your child’s play, talk with your child’s health care provider, teacher or caregiver, or a child development specialist.

Source: The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning Vanderbilt University; http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/documents/teaching_your_child-feeling.pdf



Function and Flexibility Of Object Exploration:


Free range play of animals is discussed in this paper. And here’s an excerpt.

The exploratory play of young humans is thought to scaffold such learning, whereby infants construct knowledge about an object’s functionality through repeated interaction. Consequently, unrewarded object exploration may serve as an important phylogenetic or ontogenetic precursor to tool use.

SOURCE: Lambert Megan L., Schiestl Martina, Schwing Raoul, Taylor Alex H., Gajdon Gyula K., Slocombe Katie E. and Seed Amanda M. 2017Function and flexibility of object exploration in kea and New Caledonian crowsR. Soc. open sci.4170652170652




When children play, they exercise their senses, their intellect, their emotions, their imagination—keenly and energetically.… To play is to explore, to discover and to experiment. Playing helps children develop ideas and gain experience. It gives them a wealth of knowledge and information about the world in which they live—and about themselves. So to play is also to learn. Play is fun for children. But it’s much more than that—it’s good for them, and it’s necessary. … Play gives children the opportunity to develop and use the many talents they were born with.
~ Jaak Panksepp, American Neuroscientist



Lesser The Toys, Better The Play:


Saracho and Spodek (1998) suggest a balance between familiar and novel toys, as well as careful monitoring that the number of toys in the environment promotes play. They propose that fewer toys may allow for deeper, sophisticated play, because of the opportunity to become creative with each object in the environment. Parents carefully consider what toys they provide their children.

If the growth in the toy industry has resulted in an increase in the number of toys in the average home, this could present persistent distraction, influencing the quality of toddler play.

Source: Carly Dauch, Michelle Imwalle, Brooke Ocasio, Alexia E. Metz,
The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play, Infant Behavior and Development,



The Key To Raising Brilliant Kids? Play A Game:


Read more HERE.



5 Proven Benefits Of Play:

Read more HERE.



Bring Back “Play” In Learning:


When a student is struggling in school we often seek subject-specific tutors. However, even if they understand the material very well, having negative self-talk while studying or writing an exam can lower your grades (i.e. “I suck at math, I will probably fail this test”).

We need more programs that allow students and children to forget about the subject and simply learn while playing and having fun. Instead of sitting down to practice reading, perform a science experiment while following the instructions or follow a recipe.

Play is so important in learning, especially at a young age. I will never forget what an education professor at Harvard said at the start of her class a few years ago. She said, “All children are born curious and curiosity is what allows us to learn. Unfortunately, the minute a child enters the classroom, curiosity is killed…this is what our current education system is doing”. This needs to change.

By Cindy Hovington Ph.D. Read more HERE.





Research tells us that children who played more board games at home had better communication and numerical skills than those who didn’t play board games often? After all, it does take a lot of street smarts to win in an extensive game of Monopoly!

Ultimately, the rigor of curriculum has to be balanced by the unstructured nature of play. When did we forget that our hands were airplanes, and we could make a ball out of crumpled paper and toss it in the air for hours to entertain ourselves? Time to think about it.



The Decline Of Play | Peter Gray:



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