Children are small scientists. They explore toys on their own, interact with peers, gain new knowledge, and develop play. Physical and psychological development is achieved through simply ‘enjoyable’ playtime without any guidance from parents or teachers. Therefore, free play is an important part of youth development.
All environments infants face are subject to their search, and their search is maximized in voluntary play. The perception of the world is expanded through the experience of planning, selecting, and starting and ending play by themselves.
Since such free play is based on the absence of adult intervention, conflicts or dangerous situations between peers are likely to occur. Therefore, adults need to intervene without interfering with their play. In particular, adults should actively create an environment so that children can safely practice free play.
There are a few things to check to provide a perfect free play space for children. It is necessary to consider whether there are any pointed parts of the toy, whether the (class)room is too cold or too hot, or there are toys that are big enough for younger babies to handle without being a choking hazard. In addition, the basic living area and play area should be separated so that kids who play and those who do not are not disturbed by each other. It is also important to place enough toys to prevent conflicts between children and to create a space for all toddlers to start playing based on their own interests.
Children can broaden their awareness of the world. During free play, they learn how to share opinions and respect others through interaction with peers and helps them form a positive self-image.
When kids themselves take the lead in play, they can cultivate creativity and achieve positive development.
This blog written by Da Hye Kim, Seoul National University, Family and Consumer Sciences intern.