What is children’s free play?

Children’s free play is fantastic. It allows them to learn all about their likes and dislikes and encourages them to make decisions about their own play. The importance of free play has been well researched and is vital for early learners.

Let us give you a quick overview of what free play is, why it’s important and what you can do to inspire it in your playground.

girl using a playground blackboard during free play

What is free play?

Free play is where children choose exactly what they want to do. They set their own agenda and follow all their own interests. Adults are there to supervise, but they don’t offer any direction for play or try to encourage a particular activity.

Instead, those supervising the play take cues from the child. Of course, there are still boundaries in place for the play, as we don’t want children taking extreme risks that pose a danger to their safety. But, in free play, children choose what they want to do and adults are there to support with resources as necessary.

Why is it important?

Free play allows children to develop as individuals. They’re encouraged to consider their own interests, follow their passions and develop as individuals. When free playing with others, they build their social bonds and advance their communication skills.

Children learn how best to interact with others and begin to get an understanding of social rules, including turn taking, sharing and negotiation. They learn to recognise emotional responses in others and begin to understand how to balance their emotions.

Supporting free play

There are lots of ways you can support children’s free play in your playground. Children love playtime. They won’t need much persuasion to head outside with their peers and enjoy time together on the playground.

Your playground equipment is a great asset to inspire children’s free play. It sparks their imaginations and you’ll be amazed at the games and ideas that come out of it. A simple way to encourage free play is with role play equipment. Let children board a train, tractor or boat, or open their own shop.

children using a role play train in their playground

school children free playing with a school sand pit

You can also offer sensory play equipment to get their creativity and imaginations flowing. Mud kitchens, sand and water playground equipment are all ideal for this, as the different materials and textures delight and inspire free play.

Natural playground equipment is also fantastic for free play. Not only are children able to follow their own interests, they can develop new ones by expanding their understanding of the world around them.

Want to talk more?

If you’d like to know more about how you can encourage free play in your space, please get in touch. The friendly team at Image Playgrounds are full of ideas for inspirational playgrounds. We offer free 3D designs and site surveys with every play area we work on to make it easy for your ideas to become reality.

Image Playgrounds offer playground design services
Free design and consultation

Interested in seeing what our designers can create for you?

Our team have years of experience planning and designing playgrounds. We can help you choose the equipment that best suits your requirements, budget and space.

Why not drop us a line today and get the ball rolling?

01347 878747


Get started today

Drop us a line and let us know about your project.