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Today, kids are either involved in organised events, electronic media based entertainment or structured vocational classes. This is reducing their creativity, ability to think out of the box, and imagination alike. Unstructured play in toddlers or activity that requires no adult supervision is fast becoming an essential!
Children today spend a major chunk of their free time indoors, learning structured lessons, or getting involved in organised sports activities outdoors. Electronic entertainment is taking up a major part of their day too. While planned involvements like extracurricular lessons are important for your child’s development, so is unstructured free play. Along with enhancing the creativity and imagination, an unstructured play brings forth confidence and boundless energy!
Understanding the Concept of Free Play Child Development
1. What Exactly is Unstructured Play?
Unstructured play in toddlers involves a set of activities that are conceptualised and planned by the kids themselves at whim. These play ideas require no adult supervision. Kids, when left to devise their own playtime strategies, strive to create activities, take initiatives, and develop naturally.
2. What’s the Right Kind of Environment for Unstructured Play?
Parents interested in unstructured play and 16-months-old(or kids who’ve passed their toddler age) need to create an encouraging and supervision-free play time environment at home. In most cases, outdoors offer more opportunities for exciting free play time because of the presence of movable things like sticks, rocks and dirt that allow for exploration and creation. Here, parents might want to balance out their reasonable concerns of vigilance by watching them from far. Encouraging kids to enjoy their freedom and learn from their mistakes and experiences help them develop faster.
3. Why is this Concept Gaining Importance?
In the vastly competitive scenario that kids are finding themselves in today, there are many crucial developmental windows that are seemingly ‘un-missable.’ Be it in the form of a sport, extra languages, music, dance, painting, letters, etc. parents are always looking for finely structured avenues for aiding development milestones. More so, crime, traffic, stranger danger, and even weather are making things all the more difficult.
4. Why Unstructured Play is Important for Toddlers?
Free play, especially while kids are outdoors, serves as an antidote to the many risks of electronically dominated, modern indoor life. The benefits of unstructured play for toddlers include promotion of cognitive and intellectual growth, improved social interactions, and better emotional intelligence. As kids start planning, organising, sequencing, and making decisions on their own, they start developing simple management skills early on in life.
5. Unstructured Play Ideas for a Toddler
Parents need to facilitate motor activities that will come in handy for children while they are organising their play. It’s a good idea to take kids to safe playgrounds, neighbourhood parks, or to a friend’s backyard to encourage free play and be sure of their safety too.
Apart from keeping the importance of unstructured play in mind, parents should save themselves from becoming over-vigilant or donning a supervisory role at all times. With the right measures in place, you may also look forward to having a kid who loves to handle his own playtime and in the best manner possible.