How often do you hear those immortal words “I’m bored!” spill from your child’s mouth?
It is something I hear fairly frequently in my house, especially after I have enforced time limits on their technology.
The question is, what do you do about it?
Do you ever wonder what would happen if you just let them be bored, encouraging them to play free?
Play is an important part of child development – from physical development of their muscles and motor skills, to the development of cognitive and communication skills and social/emotional growth.
Research by Play England shows kids today often lead more structured lives; with timetables of classes and activities. In some cases, play has been ‘institutionalised’ into structured, development-oriented activities in which parents are often excluded.
To a certain extent, our family is guilty of this. Eliza and Isaac both do after-school clubs, attend Beavers and Cubs and they all go to swimming lessons, however, I try to make time for free-play time too.
I always joke that the kids always fight and they do bicker and argue, however, when left to their own devices it is lovely to see them making up their own games and playing nicely, whether it be in the house, the garden or out and about exploring nature at its best.
I am working with Petits Filous and Britmums who want to ensure Free Play doesn’t become a thing of the past. This is why they are launching a campaign which aims to champion Free Play and the benefits of it by encouraging parents to embrace it as part of their child’s day.
The key feature of Free Play is letting kids get bored sometimes and allowing them to find their own solutions – without reaching for the technology. It should be child-led and child-driven, however, that doesn’t mean that adults never join in, but rather that adults do not control the content or direction of Free Play.
The best environment for Free Play is where parents know their children are safe and where it’s ok to make a mess or get mucky.
Outdoor play and natural settings provide a sensory-rich environment for physical development and natural learning – how often does your child pick up a stick and start playing with it?
Indoor pretend play fosters creativity, brain development and social skills. It could be as simple as making up stories with dolls, working together to build a car or train track or solving problems with building bricks such as DUPLO or LEGO.
Petits Filous provides your child with the goodness of calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Furthermore, a recent Change4Life campaign launched by Public Health England recommends Petits Filous – with less than 100 calories per serving – as a healthy snack for kids and their Petits Filous pouches are the perfect snack for on the go as they can be kept out of the fridge for five hours and don’t not need a spoon. Learn more about the nutritional benefits of Petits Filous at petitsfilous.co.uk
Join me at the Britmums Twitter chat on Tuesday 16th January at 13:00 and tell us how you encourage your children to Play Free.
To take part simply tweet between 13:00 – 14:00 GMT about the benefits of Free Play and how parents encourage it using the hashtag #PetitsFilousFreePlay, and following @BritMums. Tag @thinking_parent to ask Anita Cleare any questions. 10 lucky winners, chosen at random, will win a John Lewis voucher worth £25.
In the meantime, head over to the Petits Filous Facebook page and watch their free play videos. They are full of hints and tips to get you started.
Disclaimer: I’m working with Petits Filous and BritMums promoting the #PetitsFilousPlayFree campaign about the importance of free play.