This week I was observed and subsequently interviewed by a Doctoral candidate. He was specifically observing what he called, “active play”. Active play, he explained is student-initiated physical activity, similar to what I term, “free-play”.
During active play, like 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”.
The benefits of active play include the development of fine and gross-motor coordination, the refinement of proprioceptive awareness, increased balance, strength, and endurance. There are in addition, social and emotional benefits.
Some parents and teachers may be uncomfortable with the risks associated with unassisted physical activity. As children play freely together, falls, slips, and crashes inevitably occur. When accidents do occur, children are gradually released to respond independently. You may find if the adult does not react, the child will simply get-up, dust herself off and resume active playing. You will most certainly find compassionate playmates providing assistance to the best of their ability.