The Benefits of Free Play

Just like we used to hear from our parents and grandparents when we were kids, today’s kids hear us talking about how things have changed since the old days. Of course, many changes are good. But some changes actually undermine our human flourishing. Perhaps you’ve heard yourself telling your kids about your childhood and what is now called “free play.” It was those self-organized afterschool and weekend pickup games in driveways and backyards among the neighborhood kids, all void of an adult presence. Experts tell us that free play helps kids build skills in cooperation and problem-solving. Free play encourages physical fitness. It builds resilience as kids have to navigate arguments, failures, and poor sportsmanship. Parents, we want our kids to learn how to get along with others, ultimately in ways that evidence the fruit of the spirit. Perhaps we need to peel back on our tendency to over-schedule our kids in organized sports, and allow them to get outside to play with each other.