Unstructured Play – Why You Should Incorporate It into Your Child’s Day!

“[Unstructured] play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007

For over ten years, Fredericksburg-area families have trusted Wiggle Worms to provide excellent hands-on, structured activities for their kids. Wiggle Worms offers weekly classes, such as Wonder Worms for 3-5 year olds and Jitterbugs for newborns up to age 3. We also guide kids of all ages in arts and crafts and STEM activities, as well. Nevertheless, Wiggle Worms also understands the importance of supervised unstructured play for all children, as well! Here’s why we encourage unstructured play:

1. Unstructured play is crucial for brain development, particularly in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for executive function, including decision-making and emotional regulation. Unstructured play fosters critical thinking skills, which can help children adapt to new or unfamiliar situations. This interview with Dr. Sergio Pellis on NPR further expounds on the connection between unstructured play and neural development.

2. Unstructured play boosts pro-social behaviors. Supervised unstructured play gives children the opportunity to practice and strengthen positive social behaviors, such as turn-taking, sharing, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

3. Unstructured play promotes gross motor development. Impromptu unstructured games, such as Duck-Duck-Goose, catch, and parachute activities, have multiple benefits. They get kids moving, while also fostering positive social interactions.

4. Unstructured play encourages emotional regulation. Imaginative dress-up play can help children work out feelings, such as anxiety and fear, in a healthy way, while also learning appropriate ways to express them. Examples of this include playing pretend doctor, dentist, or “house”.

Clearly, it is important to incorporate unstructured play into your child’s day! Wiggle Worms is a convenient choice for parents wanting to develop whole, holistic growth in their child. Whether you join us for Family Play or utilize our part-time drop-off services, we are here to engage in supervised play with your child!

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