Play Week Aotearoa 23

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Free play is essential for a child's development

It helps them learn about the world around them, express their emotions, and build important skills. Free play allows children to choose their own activities and materials, and to set their own pace.

Benefits of free play include

Cognitive Development

Free play helps children develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and critical thinking skills. When children are playing freely, they are constantly trying new things and experimenting with different possibilities. This helps them to learn and grow.

Physical development

Engaging in free play helps children develop their gross motor and fine motor skills. Through activities such as running, jumping, and climbing, children develop their large muscles children develop their gross motor and fine motor skills. Through activities such as drawing, painting, and playing with puzzles, children develop their small muscles.

Social development

When children play with others, they learn how to take turns, share, and cooperate. They also learn how to resolve conflicts and negotiate. This helps children develop their social skills.

Emotional Development

Free play also helps children develop their emotional intelligence. Through play, children learn how to express their emotions in a healthy way. They also learn how to cope with negative emotions such as frustration and anger.

How can we encourage free play at home?

Parents/whānau/caregivers can encourage children to engage in free play at home by providing them with a safe and stimulating environment.

Here are some tips for encouraging free play at home:

  • Provide a safe space to play. Make sure that your child's play area is free of hazards.
  • Provide a variety of materials. This could include blocks, dolls, cars, art supplies, and dress-up clothes.
  • Avoid being too directive. Let your child choose their own activities and materials.
  • Give some clues and prompts along the way. If your child gets stuck, you can offer some suggestions, but don't tell them what to do.
  • Make it a bonding activity. Play with your child when you can, but also let them play independently.

Free play is an important part of a child's development. By encouraging free play at home, we can help children learn and grow in a fun and healthy way.

Click here to read the Education Hub's article, which provides more detail about play

Check out the Sport New Zealand website for tips and resources.

Nischal Chakravarthy
7 November 2023
min read

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