by Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman
I was recently asked by Nancy to write a post about the benefits of unstructured play. As I was preparing for my post I began looking through photos of my kids through the years that I can include in my post. Since my kids’ favorite thing to do is create their own games that are unique to them I was certain I’ll find dozens of pictures depicting that. To my great surprise, I could barely find any pictures like that. It seemed as if all of the pictures were of my kids sitting nicely on the carpet playing with Legos, putting together a puzzle or running a train on its track. Could I have been wrong? Was I deluding myself into thinking that they really loved unstructured play?
I realized that as an adult, I tended to take more pictures of them doing “regular” play, the type you see in magazines, commercials and movies. Whenever I see them sitting nicely, with everything in its place, I immediately think “photo opp”.
But in reality, most of the time, our living room is messy with toys everywhere. The little writing easel has been turned upside-down and is now a slide, the Legos are put together to create a “birthday cake” and the laundry basket is a boat that takes them to the land of dragons where they have to avoid the “sticky sticky mud”. There is very little order and organization and my kids are as happy as clams, playing in the pretend world they had just created.
It’s a little odd that as adults we like watching our kids playing so nicely with store-bought toys when kids naturally gravitate towards unstructured play and make-belief. Studies have repeatedly shown the social, physical and emotional benefits of play: increased innovation, coordination and range of motions. Improved adaptability, non-verbal skills and immune system. Reduced fear, stress and anxiety. Increased attention span and empathy, plus emotional healing.
Please visit The Genius of Play to learn more and to take the Pledge to Play. Once one millions hours of play have been reached, The Genius of Play Organization will donated $10,000 worth of toys to children in need.
This is a compensated post.
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman is the owner of Mama’s Bites and has also written for The Huffington Post. She has been living in New York City for fourteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 8, 6 and 2) and loves finding great products that make her family’s life easier.