- I always advise parents to allow their children to have as much unstructured outdoor play as possible, using their imaginations to occupy themselves. Here, they are free to roam and explore their world, think critically, create, and discover.
“David Elkind, Ph.D., in his book The Power of Play, writes, “As well-informed parents and grandparents, we are concerned about giving our children and grandchildren intellectual stimulation as well as social experience and extracurricular opportunities. This angst, together with changes in the toys and the media available to children, has had a profound effect on children’s play. Parental angst leads to the overprotection, overscheduling, and over-programming of contemporary children.
Research has found that sensory issues have risen since unstructured play has declined in young children. This proves how free play is extremely important for young children. It aids in their whole development; social, emotional, and physical.
I encourage everyone to allow your child to explore their outdoor environment for long periods of time. Allow them to climb that tree and fall down without running to rescue them. Children need to have a small dose of danger to learn how to make decisions. Parents need to learn when or when not to step in. If your child falls, stand back when not needed. Let them clean themselves off and move on. That’s a life lesson.
When they are allowed to play freely they may take some risk. Risk taking is an important part of their development as well. It helps them learn to overcome fear and problem-solve.
In the quietness of nature, the child can reach within themselves and in the boredom awaken their creativity and spirituality.