Why Children Need 1 – 2 Hours of Independent, Unstructured Play Every Day

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Want your children to be doing something educational? Then let them play! Play is the natural way children learn. It’s one of the best ways for children to develop and strengthen their mental and physical abilities.

But not just any kind of play. Children need lots of independent, unstructured play. This type of play does not include watching TV, playing video games, or using any type of technology. Independent play is simply when your children play alone or with siblings or friends, but without adult intervention.

Research shows that play literally develops strong and widespread neural connections in a growing child’s brain. One study found that brain connections in animals actually sprout during periods of play, and believe that the same kind of brain growth occurs in human children when they play.

Play also develops:

  • Mental skills such as problem solving and cause and effect

  • Verbal skills

  • Creativity and imagination

  • Social skills

  • Fine and gross motor skills (physical coordination)

Unfortunately, many children today don’t know how to play and entertain themselves because they’ve never had to learn. They’ve always had some type of technology to entertain them. Therefore, when they can’t use technology, they get bored.

But unstructured play is so important to the development of children’s basic competency skills. That’s why independent play time should be part of your children’s daily routine—whether they want to or not.

Through play children actively learn about the real world by investigating and experiencing it directly. They learn problem solving by interacting in their environment and figuring out how things work. They learn cause and effect by doing something and then seeing what