Children are one of the busiest people in today’s world. Their world not only comprises of their school day activities but also includes a whole range of after school activities. These after school activities are meant for their all-round development. Unfortunately, there are so many after school classes that children get over stressed and anxious.
Today, most families have both parents as working parents. In such a situation, parents feel the need to get their children enrolled for these additional classes just to keep them preoccupied. On the other hand, work at home parents feel that their children should get the best by enrolling them in as many classes as possible. This mind set is wrong and often leads to the overscheduling of things in a child’s life.
At the end of the day, children are so tired and exhausted that they are tempted to spend even more time in front of the television. If we compare our childhood days, we had a lot of free play time, which was enjoyed by all of us. We played simple games like hide and seek, running in the garden, skipping, jumping ropes etc.
A recent study in America has indicated that the constant decline in a child’s unstructured free time has a serious impact on the all-round emotional and physical development of the child. There are many new age problems being faced by children such as depression, high anxiety levels, lack of concentration, boredom, self-control etc.
Today, let us understand why it is important to have free play time in your children’s life.
- Increases their imagination and creativity.
- Do not overschedule their activities.
- It helps in building their overall development.
- Encourage them to entertain themselves rather than you giving them some prescribed tasks to play.
- Outdoor free play activities are a great source of exercise and fitness.
- Prioritise activities for your children.
- Free play time brings joy and happiness.
Increases their imagination and creativity.
It is important to know that unstructured free play time will allow your children to use their imagination and creativity. Your children will naturally be encouraged to do things that they like to do in their free time. These are times that they do things for themselves and not for anybody else. It removes the burden of competition or the stress to do things right. They enjoy the process of doing things that they like, which in turns boosts their self-confidence and their physiological strength.
Do not overschedule their activities.
We must face the reality that our children are growing up in a very competitive world, much different from our own growing up years. We definitely cannot change the reality around us but we can balance it by making sure that our children have enough free play time.
Ensure that you only give, one or maximum two additional activities per week depending upon your children’s likes. Do not overcrowd their after school time. Maintain a proper schedule for their study, homework time along with their free play time. Check out their enthusiasm level for the activity that you want to enrol them for. Try cutting down time in areas that unnecessarily exhaust them.
It helps in building their overall development.
As children play with their own peers and friends, they solve their problems, negotiate, exert control, accept rules and restrictions and behave appropriately. Children learn how to deal and behave with others around them. All these things can be learnt and imbibed easily from the surrounding circumstances that they play in.They also learn the consequences of not adapting in these surroundings.
Encourage them to entertain themselves rather than you giving them some prescribed tasks to play.
It is important for children to have fun on their own terms. Initially to get started, you can give them ideas to explore. Encourage them to do something that interests them without any adult help or interaction. This will help them to become independent and keep themselves busy.
Outdoor free play activities are a great source of exercise and fitness.
As your child simply runs around in the garden, does skipping or sliding on the slide, swinging etc., it becomes a source of exercise for their body. They learn to channelize their energy, emotions, anger and fear while playing. This free play time helps to build their physical as well as their mental abilities to handle different situations.
Prioritise activities for your children.
Sometimes the overload of activities is by the children themselves. They are influenced by their peer pressure and want to get enrolled for every activity that their friends have enrolled for. Always give them a maximum limit of activities that they can enroll for. If they still insist, then ask them to drop off one of the existing activities. You need to guide them to be responsible and accountable for the activities taken.
Free play time brings joy and happiness.
Almost every child in the world will like to have free play time. Research indicates that children are very happy when they play with other children, in an outside environment. Even today, we can relate to our own childhood free play experiences with joy.
Taking away this free time from them obviously leads to stress, anxiety and depression.
Parents want the best for their children. They want them to excel academically, in sports, in music and all other extra- curricular activities. Remember to encourage your child to excel in the activities that they are good at. They can spend more time in honing their talents, which gives them joy as well as inspiration.
Remember to love your child unconditionally and build them up as good healthy and positive adults. Free play time is one of the most simple and effective ways in bringing up your child with a healthy and well-rounded personality.
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