Importance of Unstructured Play for toddlers

Unstructured play is a category of play where children are allowed to engage in open ended or free play without any constructive objective. Basically the result of such play may not have a concrete result but can play an important role in their mental and physical development.

The key is to allow children choose what and how they want to play and when they want to stop and do another activity. It involves no goals or curriculum set by an adult. While an adult may provide the space and materials to play, the child is the leader and we take cues from them.

It’s important to have a curriculum and follow a routine but equally crucial to let toddlers play alone to help them develop crucial skills which are linked to higher academic achievement and well-being. Toddlers learn a great deal by exploring the inside and outside world, of course under our supervision. Just like adults, they can learn more about the world and how it works in a practical way.

It’s one thing to see an apple, but another to hold it in your hand, feel its glistening cool, smooth skin, smell its fragrance or maybe even taste it.  This kind of development is all the better if you ask questions: What color is it? Is it big or small? Sweet or bitter?

Benefits of Free/Unstructured Play
  1. Learn to explore and discover their surrounding
  2. Use their imagination to play with materials they find
  3. Builds creativity and come up with new ideas
  4. Important for emotional and cognitive development
  5. Develop motor planning skills
  6. Learn to socialize and collaborative play skills like – peer interaction, sharing, taking turns etc
  7. Express their emotions and understand their and others feelings
  8. Problem solving skills and learn to be independent
  9. Develop communication and language skills
  10. Provides opportunities for children to discover their interests and skills!

It’s important to note that unstructured play must be free of gadgets and electronics. Watching Tv or sitting and playing games on the computer isn’t free play.

Check out this article for idea on unstructured play – Unstructured playtime ideas to get the kids outside

It’s a great idea to head out to the park or have some fun free play time at home.  Let them go wild and explore. You can incorporate some learning as an outcome too. It’s a great way to work on their motor skills like kicking a ball, running, climbing up and down the stairs. Besides it boosts their sense of confidence and competence. In other words, they begin to think: “I can do it!”. Plus you get a tired kid by the end of the day!

Kenisha is wearing a beautiful pure cotton dress by a Indie Projects. They offers a beautiful selection of handmade clothing, accessories and baby products for boys and girls aged 0 to 5 years. Click HERE to see all their designs

As I mentioned, a balance is really important between structured & unstructured play. You can read views of Shalu Rathod on Structured Play (Click for direct link)

To read more of my parenting blogs click HERE

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    • You said it Geethica. As adults we may find it strange why our children are wasting time. but allowing free play is equally critical for innovative play!

  1. Ask me about it.. my kids are growing up on their own terms.. n I find them pretty good as far as confidence n all is Concerned

  2. Ask me about it.. my kids are growing up on their own terms.. n I find them pretty good as far as confidence n all is Concerned.
    They are good at pretend plays Infact and we do not disturb if something is going on their own

  3. Pingback: Structured-activities - Parenting choices that helped my sanity

  4. I agree a balance between structure and free play time makes kids imaginative and creative. Loved your blog.

  5. Free play is very important for their overall development. The learn to think out of the box. Playing outside with other kids also teaches them to be a team player and accepting any no positively when their suggested game is not implemented by all.

  6. I have always been a unstructured , open – ended play promoter ❤️❤️ I love that kids come up with their own ways to keep themselves occupied.
    Love this post it affirms everything I believe in. So well written ❤️

    And Keni is looking absolutely adorable in her IndieProjectStore dress ❤️❤️❤️

  7. In the age of helicopter parenting, unstructured play time has become extremely important. It helps the child not only with individual development but teaches them interpersonal and team skills also. With you on this 100%.