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Do you know what free play is?
For toddlers, free play is time in which they can explore their surroundings freely, and let their inbuilt creativity run wild.
Some parents find it challenging to incorporate free play into a toddler’s daily or weekly routine. And when it actually comes to it, it often feels unnatural for parents to simply let their kids roam freely, without knowing exactly what they’ll do next.
Despite the urge to be constantly teaching our toddlers new things – increasing their vocabulary, showing them new things to count, and giving them every opportunity to learn, we can underestimate the value of letting a toddler’s growing mind wander, and leave them to explore their surroundings at their own pace.
Spaces perfect for free play include the great outdoors, school playgrounds, gardens and (would you believe it!) trampoline parks!
For most toddlers a trip to the trampoline park is the first time they have experienced a whole new world of things to see, feel and learn. Leaving your toddler to explore the trampoline park at their own pace (of course, still under your supervision) is a great way of increasing your toddler’s creative impulses, as well as giving them the freedom to express themselves individually.
During free play, toddlers will often interact with others and make new companions, which increases emotional intelligence. Toddlers will come together to invent new games, create rules, and communicate in ways they wouldn’t if they were simply being led from activity to activity. This sort of early interaction develops all those qualities that we treasure when kids grow up: empathy, friendship, and social flexibility. In fact, research has shown that there is a connection between the amount of free play a child has and social success as an adult.
So parents remember, tuition isn’t the only type of learning your child needs. Unstructured, free play in spaces like trampoline parks is a great way for toddlers to develop their creativity, as well as learn valuable skills for later life.