So much happens outside! We like to spend a lot of time outdoors because it’s packed with exciting opportunities to explore and express creativity. While outdoors, we often play structured games with Coach Chip or read books, sing songs, exercise and dance together. However, some of the best times we have are when we get to enjoy the beautiful weather and connect with one another in FREE PLAY!
Play matters in our school. We believe it is essential to a child’s mental, physical and social development. We created a short video of a couple of the beautiful moments captured from a morning outside.
During free play, children are able to venture off and explore their outdoor environment. Being able to determine their own adventure and exploration establishes an important sense of self, independence and freedom.
You will notice in the video that the children often communicate and play with one another. Small groups and partnerships develop and soon dramatic play and activities evolve on their own among the children. They laugh together and support one another. You will also notice the enjoyment of one group of children in particular as they follow one child’s lead in a “game” she created!
Words, movement and dramatic play are several ways in which children express themselves and explore the environment around them. It’s during unstructured play that children get to share their creativity and imagination with one another, build new relationships and strengthen existing ones, take on leadership roles in games they create, learn the value of working together in groups and practice problem solving and conflict resolution.
All of these skills and concepts are important for children to learn in order to positively interact with one another and understand their roles in society as individuals and as members of a group. Free play establishes a sense of community and satisfies the children’s natural desire to connect. Also, the physical activity that takes place during play builds children’s coordination and positively contributes to general physical health.
Free play is child led and unstructured. It is especially valuable to our program because it allows us to observe what the children are naturally interested in or puzzled by. We take this information and use it to formulate future provocations, projects and other learning experiences, ultimately ensuring that the children’s interests are a primary foundation for their learning.
Check out this article to learn more about the benefits associated with play from a scientific perspective.