Have you ever heard of the quote, “Play is serious business for children?” Indeed, play has so many benefits during children’s formative years. They learn concepts about the world, build social skills, and expand their imagination through play.

There are two kinds of play that can be integrated into preschool: One is structured, which is usually guided by a teacher, and the other one is free play. This article focuses on the benefits of free play, plus some action tips on how to include them within the preschool setting.

Free play fosters creativity

While structure play encourages children to learn from adult models, free play helps in developing creativity. As children understand the purpose of each material through structured play, they have the opportunity to combine or think of other ways to use objects during free play.

Action tip: Arrange play materials in interesting ways, and let children play freely using these unique combinations.

Free play creates natural interactions with others

There’s a time to learn social interactions in theory, but there should also be times where children are free to interact with others in natural situations. Free play can be one of those opportunities, aside from meal times and going outdoors.

Action tip: Observe social interactions during free play and facilitate appropriate words or actions when needed.

Free play provides a form of active rest

Many scholarly articles point to free play as a form of ‘restoration’ for children after having some form of structured learning. According to an Australian website First Five Years, free play is a time where children do not need to conform to the pressure of adult expectations. Thus, their brains can rest and find ways to still pursue their creative ideas.

Action tip: Schedule free play in strategic moments, preferably following structured learning to provide some rest.

As one looks into these benefits, it should be easy to conclude that free play isn’t time wasted. It is a learning opportunity for children both in cognitive and socio-emotional aspects. Aside from that, free play is a form of leisure that can make kids feel refreshed and ready for other tasks ahead.

Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or caregiver of a preschooler, these action tips can help you incorporate free play into your schedule.