Why It’s Good to Let Children Play #PlayMoreMN

It’s so important to let children play. However, so many parents today feel the pressure to direct their child’s every move and to provide structured opportunities for learning. Child-directed play is essential to learning, and we need to provide more opportunities and let children play.

We also need to give ourselves the freedom to relax and let the kids play and work through things on their own.

Who is with me!?

Why it's Good to Let Children Play #PlayMoreMN

Last week, this lonely stay at home Momma got the chance to get out without the kids and be among other adults, and what did we do? Play with toys and talk about kids! I was so excited to be invited to be a part of the Minnesota Children’s Museum Play Enthusiast Panel. What a great group to be a part of and the #PlayMoreMN initiative is definitely something I can get behind!

It felt like when you talk to one of your girlfriends, and finally make a plan to get together for the first time in forever. Then, that day arrives and you drag your feet moaning about having to get out of the house and dreading driving through the city. However, once you do it you have a blast and can’t wait for the next time!

Why It’s Good to Let Children Play

We walked into the boardroom at the Surly Brewing Company, and found toys covering the tables. The playful attitude was infectious. We didn’t just talk about the importance of play, we experienced it.

Why it's Good to Let Children Play #PlayMoreMN

The Minnesota Children’s Museum is doing a major remodel and the grand opening is on the horizon and should be completed by summer. We got a sneak peek at the new museum, and it looks amazing!! Each area is designed to address a specific area of learning and give children many different opportunities for open-ended play. My favorite, with The Scramble in a close second, is The Big White Room.

I love watching the transformation, and wish I could do this in our own home!

Not only is the museum remodeling with the importance of play in mind, they are working to increase awareness and start a movement to express the importance of play on child development.

When we let children play, they are actually developing skills naturally. The Minnesota Children’s Museum has identified some of these skills as the “Powers of Play”ย and incorporated them into different areas of the museum.

Powers of Play

  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Self-Control
  • Confidence
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Coordination

We had so much fun chatting about the importance of play. We discussed the hurdles many parents have to let children play. We also talked about how we can help parents overcome those hurdles and inspire them with ideas for open-ended play. Then, we got to play a bit ourselves, without our kids, and just feel what the process of play is like for our children.

My favorite takeaways from the Play Enthusiast panel lunch

  • It’s ok to have relaxing child-directed play
  • There is too much pressure on parents to direct children’s play time and provide educational opportunities.
  • You’re not a bad parent if you let your child play alone
  • Play helps create a community that is more innovative and creative, which is a skill that is underdeveloped in young adults entering the workforce today.

Why it's Important to Let Children Play #PlayMoreMN

Our family is looking forward to the museum opening! We can’t wait to try out all the new exhibits.

All the talk about the power of play, really has me thinking about things we can do at home to encourage the kids to play more, exercise their creativity and problem solving, and build skills important for life… but more on that later…

Do you kids have time for unstructured play? What challenges do you face in creating more time for play?

Kristin - Exploring Domesticity

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37 thoughts on “Why It’s Good to Let Children Play #PlayMoreMN

  1. Kayla O'Neill

    I love this post so much…Just moved away from Minnesota and you are making me miss it! It is such a child driven state! Play is the MOST important activity for any child as it encourages development in all areas!

    Reply
  2. Christy

    As a mother of 3, I depend on my kids having independent play just so I can get some things done around the house. But what I’ve also realized is sometimes my kids will end up playing with something that will give me an opportunity to connect with and teach them.

    Reply
    1. Kristin, Exploring Domesticity Post author

      Absolutely! It’s essential for parents to have that time to get other things done without feeling guilty that they’re not engaging with the kids. I really like your point about how we can then take their lead and find additional teaching moments from what they are interested in.

      Reply
  3. Divya

    Oh gosh, I am absolutely in agreement with this. We need to give our children the time and space to be BORED. It is then when they are forced to be creative. We, as adults, also need time away from all our devices and distractions. That’s when our brain is truly getting the fuel it needs!

    Reply
  4. Caitlin

    This is a great post! I wish we had something like this near me. I have to remind myself that it’s a positive thing to let my son play on his own sometimes. I start to feel guilty and then I realize how creative and happy he is ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Kristin, Exploring Domesticity Post author

      Absolutely! I feel like there is a lot of pressure on parents these days and we feel guilty for letting them explore, play, and work out problems on their own. I think it’s so important to show the power of play so we parents can see the value in it and give ourselves a break without guilt!

      Reply
  5. Amila Wickramarachchi

    Play is really important for kids.I really like the ideas shared in this post.Yes,as you say, play activities improve skills such as creative thinking ,self control and confidence etc.Other than active play,I also encourages my son for his pretend play activities.I see lot of creative ideas through these imaginary play sessions…

    Reply
  6. Lisa

    I agree, let them play, let them make mistakes, let them learn on their own. As long as they are safe, the more they experience the better!

    Reply
  7. Imaobong

    Very well written.
    I remember growing up and always been locked indoors cos my parents were quite overprotective and this gave me serious issues with my esteem and also being out in public for a long time.
    Playtime is so important.
    Thanks for the awareness ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Reply
  8. Kathryn

    Love this post! I am a strong believer in letting kids play. My kids even when to a play-centered preschool. They loved it and learned so much!

    Reply
    1. Kristin, Exploring Domesticity Post author

      That was one of my biggest fears with my son going into kindergarten. I was hearing so much about the schools cutting the arts, all the standardize testing, and limited free play and I was so nervous! I know it will get worse at some point, but so far so good in kindergarten.

      Reply
  9. Elizabeth Brico

    My kids love playing with each other now, and sometimes alone too. The key, I’ve found, in helping myself not feel guilty, and also in keeping them happy, is to engage when they come to me, but to let them run off and play with their toys when they want to. They are actually pretty good at striking that balance on their own!

    Reply
  10. David Elliott

    I know that I had a hard time leaving my daughter alone for unstructured play. Since she was an only child I felt like someone should be engaging her. But you are right. They need to be able to play alone too.

    Reply
    1. Kristin, Exploring Domesticity Post author

      It’s so true! I feel like these days we are lead to believe that we need to be facilitating their play in a way and are a lazy parent if we give them time alone, but there is so much benefit to learning to do things on their own and making mistakes!

      Reply
  11. Kristen

    At the beginning I had a lot of guilt when my children would play alone. Now however I see how much they benefit from playing alone!

    Reply
  12. Working Mum

    Great post! I used to feel really guilty leaving mine to play on their own as I always did “just one more job” around the house. Now I am fascinated by their crazy imaginations as the three of them make up games together. Sometimes I find myself hiding outside the door of their playroom just to eavesdrop on what they are pretending! So good to remember that they are gaining important benefits from their independent play and not just something to feel guilty about.

    Reply
  13. Habiba

    I don’t have children yet, but I do have a goddaughter. And I can support your idea in this post 100 % as I observe my goddaughter, her sister in comparison to children of other friends. Thank you for this post!

    Reply
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