5 Reasons why child-led play is so powerful
You might be wondering exactly what I mean by child-led play. Simply put, it is play entirely decided by the child and not you as the adult. There are so many adult-led activities on Instagram these days masquerading as play from elaborate small worlds designed by adults to crafts that children have inputted the bare minimum (if anything) to. Many of the ‘play-based’ learning activities on social media are not play at all – and ‘fun’ worksheets are definitely not play!
It can be really hard to let go of the idea that us adults know best. When it comes to play, our children know much more than us so we need to trust them to follow their instincts and PLAY. There are ideas on how you can achieve this further on down the article.
1.Child-Led play develops problem solving skills
“The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions.”
2. Child-led Play is the most productive use of a child’s time
“We don’t tend to think of play as having a biological imperative that has its own shape and form very different from sleep. But nonetheless, long term effects of play deprivation are really serious and they’re crucial for kids.”– Stuart Brown, MD – founder of the National Institute for Play
3. Child-led play is crucial for overall wellbeing
“I see play as one of the core components for survival and development for a human being from birth till they die. Play, even in my adult life, is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me happy, and motivated, and stimulated, and creative.”Maniza Ntekim, Early Childhood Development @UNICEFAfrica.
4.Through child-led play, we can observe a child’s understanding of life.
5.Child-led play helps children understand their interests
“It is through recognizing patterns of play, that we can begin to identify innate talents and intrinsic motivators. So there you have it, understand your own play and you’ll understand your own talents much better.”Stuart Brown, MD
5 Ways to assist child-led play at home:
- You are the assistant to your child’s role as ‘director’ – you facilitate play by providing materials that your child will play with.
- Get outside MORE – outdoor play is an excellent way to help encourage more independent child-led play.
- Provide open-ended toys that will encourage different ways of playing
- Organise your play space so that it invites imaginative play
- DON’T plan your child’s play dates. Let them come up with their own activities!
Find out about our favourite open-ended toys here.
Discover the importance of spending at least 2 hours outside everyday here.