Although children are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings, the concept of play and recreation has evolved in a way that can stifle this curiosity. Where once the word ‘play’ meant exploring the great outdoors, it now evokes images of children huddled around the TV, or tapping a hand-held screen!
Technology shouldn’t be dismissed when you’re looking for creative activities, but the emphasis should first and foremost be on exploring new surroundings and learning through physical experience. While there are many structured activities for kids online, letting kids take charge of their own play can be hugely beneficial – not to mention a lot of fun! That’s where unstructured play comes in.
What is Unstructured Play?
Also called ‘free play’, unstructured activity means giving your children the freedom to explore and discover the world around them without having to accomplish any objective learning criteria. Recent studies have shown that this approach actively encourages curiosity and initiative in children, as well as fostering creativity in later life.
Regardless of the age of your children, the kind of unstructured activities for kids they’ll enjoy is only limited by the power of their imagination. Here are a few ideas to help get them started:
Letting kids play outside with their friends encourages them to socialise with others while getting the recommended level of exercise. Bikes, rollerblades and karts make great birthday presents for older children, encouraging independence as they go further afield. Younger children should be kept in the garden and supervised from a distance. Let them express their artistic side by making collages with mud, leaves and water-soluble paints – of whatever else they’d like to make. It really is that simple!
Remember: Although unstructured play gives kids the chance to make their own rules, with freedom comes responsibility – set a curfew and enforce it.
It has been suggested that encouraging a formal approach to learning a musical instrument can narrow the likelihood of your children wanting to try other things. Unstructured play with cheap acoustic guitars, drums or bongos and recorders can keep kids entertained for hours, as well as giving them an ideal creative outlet to enjoy with friends and family.
Soft play area
Soft play areas and family entertainment centres are great locations for unstructured play! Many feature a fun-packed range of activities for kids of all ages, from ball pits to foam tubes, tunnels, slides and swings. What’s more, there are always supervisors on hand to keep an eye on your little ones while you enjoy a well-deserved coffee.
Safety: Safety gear such as helmets, kneepads, and other protective clothing are essential for children out on bikes, rollerblades and other moving gadgets.
Guest post by Jennifer and she describes herself as "a freelance writer with a passion for travel, baking, and all things cats. When she's not writing, she can be found exploring fascinating and exotic destinations with her husband and young daughter, or unsuccessfully trying to learn how to crochet."