The Importance of Free Play for Learning

| January 22, 2014 | 7 Comments
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In an attempt to improve academic achievement, schools and districts are considering a variety of reforms including lengthening the school day, shortening vacation time and any and all interventions to improve test scores. But what is lost when a child’s life becomes increasingly scheduled? Writing for The Independent, Dr. Peter Gray makes the case for free play, arguing that in those moments of fun and freedom kids, are learning how to be creative, deal with fear, and form emotional bonds. They’re also solving real world problems. Gray writes:

“We can’t teach creativity, but we can drive it out of people through schooling that centers not on children’s own questions but on questions dictated by an imposed curriculum that operates as if all questions have one right answer and everyone must learn the same things.”

Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not lessI’m a research bio-psychologist with a PhD, so I’ve done lots of school. I’m a pretty good problem-solver, in my work and in the rest of my life, but that has little to do with the schooling I’ve had.

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  • Emily Cummings

    I think the importance of play is overlooked in todays schools. Children need play time to be creative and to learn skills that are not taught from the teacher. A teacher can not teach how to be creative, that is something that comes to each person by experience. Children need time to play and I never paid attention to this problem until I was in teaching kindergarten at Athens State University. After I completed field experience at many different schools, I could see that most of the playtime we had in elementary school is not in schools today. I agree with Dr. Gray, children learn to be creative by free play with other children.
    By: Emily Cummings

    • Janice Newlin

      I agree with Ms. Cummings. Allowing children the opportunity of free play helps develop creativity. Creativity is one of many skills our children need to develop as they prepare for their future.

  • Rupali Chaudhry

    Couldn’t agree more!!!! Test scores have become so important that the purpose of education is usually forgotten.

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  • Roya Hamid

    I work as a dramatherapist and trainer in schools and early years. If the adults who support children in educational settings could find the time to be more playful this may support learning through play in children. The focus is always on the children but if the adults understood play from a more experiential and personal perspective that may act as a bridge into children’s thinking.