The Importance of Playtime

kids running playingIn 2009 Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote an article entitled “The Serious Need for Play” that was published in the Scientific American Magazine. In the article she argues that free play which is unstructured and imaginative, is important for children to be able to grow into happy adults. Children today have less free play time because they are participating in more structured activities and games that have established rules at younger ages. Free play has no set rules so it allows for more creative responses.

Benefits of free play:

  • Interacting with their peers in free play allows children to learn to be fair and to take turns. Children want to continue playing so they are more willing “to accommodate others’ desires” into the play.
  • Free play fosters creativity.
  • Play fighting improves problem solving skills.
  • Imaginative play with peers encourages language development as children have to use complicated language to explain what they are imagining; more so than when they are playing with an adult who can understand with less explaining.
  • Free play is important to emotional health because it helps children overcome anxiety and stress.
  • Play makes kids smarter.
  • “Play is a way in which children learn and in the absence of play, children miss learning experiences.”

So what can parents do?

  • Develop neighborhood networks. This is done by getting to know your neighbors and creating safe environment for your children to play in.
  • Enroll children in fewer structured activities.
  • Encourage children to invite their friends over.
  • Create more spaces for children to play.
  • Turn off the television.


For the full article see:

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One Response to “The Importance of Playtime”

  1. Mike January 22, 2020 at 11:12 am #

    My wife was the primary teacher for our children until junior high and her philosophy always encouraged plenty of unstructured play. Boys, in particular, don’t do as well with highly structured environments that are typical for most school settings.

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