Let them play

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Read about the importance for self-directed play and the role of guided play in the development of young children...

Child-directed play is when children choose what to play and make up their own rules on how to play. This particular type of play is critical to a child’s learning and well-being.

Although it is an established fact through numerous research on early childhood that children learn best through play, it is also very true for older children and adults as well. Learning is best when having fun.

When as parents we see children playing, it may seem like they are “just having fun”, but their playing is instrumental to them learning life skills and developing cognitive functions which then become the building blocks of higher cognitive development.


Sometimes, child-directed exploratory play doesn’t always look like fun. In fact, it is often when children are most engaged in their own self-motivated, self-directed play that they look most serious. This is because they are totally immersed in the engagement of that particular activity which keeps them focus and in the moment.

When children play they develop language skills, social interaction skills, physical skills, and creativity. Children may play on their own, with other children, and with or without objects. In self-directed play, children direct the action. They are in control. They create roles, stories, scenes, be whatever characters they choose. They choose to repeat their actions, create new ones, all at their own pace.

Self-directed play is empowering in that it puts the child in the driver’s seat and children feel powerful and free to imagine being someone or something else. Through this process of imagining, children work through their emotions as they re-enact experiences, are able to transform their feelings into actions in an imagined situation intuitively drawing from past experiences. They develop their imagination and creativity and are original in their thinking and ideas for stories, games, and characters.

The whole concept behind self-directed play is about the process of doing, and the process is liberating and an effective de-stresser!

But you can play with your kids too! Read why and how on the next page!

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