Unstructured Play – Important to Child Development

While signing children up for after-school lessons and sports teams is valuable, new studies reveal that allowing time for unstructured play is also valuable.

Studies reveal that over the past 50 years, free, unstructured play in children has dramatically declined, resulting in negative consequences to children’s physical, mental and social development. According to the American Journal of Play, studies show that there is an association between the decline of free play and an increase in feeling of helplessness, depression, narcissism and even thoughts of suicide in children and teenagers.

It also notes that there is great value in play between different age groups, rather than segregating children into same-age groups, as older children help mentor and teach younger children. Experts believe that children who experience free, unstructured outdoor play are less likely to suffer from being overweight, are healthier, and have better developed social skills. It promotes cardiovascular fitness, strong muscles and bones, enhances communications skills, and develops emotional regulation.

Source: “American Journal of Play”
Volume 3, Number 4

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