For 50 minutes per day, I hold indoor free-play. Children are free to play whatever they choose, with whoever they choose, however they choose. I make a point to use this time to engage in real adult work and leave the children to their “work”.
Children are naturally driven to play and free-play time is entirely student-driven. Other posts I’ve written discuss the neurological reasons for play [Link]. Many early childhood teachers emphasize as paramount the importance of unstructured play time on children’s physical, academic, social, and emotional development.
As children play freely together, conflicts inevitably occur. When conflicts do occur, I expect children to problem-solve independently. The year begins with some social coaching, but as children learn and gain confidence and experience in solving conflicts with their peers, they become fully independent.
How much free-play time do your student get? How do you value unstructured playtime for your children? Leave a comment.