Remember the first time you could cycle without falling in the first few minutes?

Or climbing a tree that gave you a view that you could not get from the ground?

Or maybe turning cartwheels for the first time?

No one gave any prizes out, but doing it was winning. Free play gives us a high as nothing else can.

While it is always good to learn any sport in a disciplined manner so that you get to your best potential, there is a lot to be said for free, unstructured, non-competitive play.

Researchers are finding that free play, in fact, is most important for children to develop real-life problem-solving skills.

Keep it simple silly

So how can you keep it simple in today's world of play-dates and classes and structured, supervised play?  

The basic idea is to help kids claim the enjoyment of movement that we experienced as children - run about, dance, climb, etc. without any competition.

For example: look at the colors of a flower that has fallen to the ground or the branch of the tree that you can climb.

Here are some tips for free play:

Make it BIG (Broad, Inclusive and General)

Do not try and get the kids too focused on one aspect. It does not matter if the racquet connects with the ball. Laugh it off and have fun swinging it about.

Make up your own games

Try and play catch sideways. It keeps the game interesting, and you may have more fun when it is unpredictable.

Try Chinese whispers and laugh at how it changes. 

Throw out the rules

Make new ones. Run only backward. Crawl on your knees. Do whatever you please. It is free play.

Nature is your playground

Ditch the jungle gym and climb a tree instead. Play pretend kitchen with fallen leaves for plates and seeds and fallen flowers for pretend food or coins. Make a sand castle. 

Include the active participation of all

Make new friends and include them with the old. The more, the merrier.

A football team can have 20 if you are just enjoying kicking the ball or passing it around.

Age no bar

Adults can have fun too! Just join the game and throw your inhibitions to the wind.

Do away with too much structure, reduce time intervals, and penalties; encourage real-world movement, imagination, and action.

Play that sets you free to enjoy yourself and not worry about the outcomes is empowering of course, but it also is a signal that fun is essential, and gives rise to innovation!

Next time, just set a play date with free play. Play to have fun, and everyone wins! 

April 12, 2018 — Shumee Toys

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