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Lilliput Messy Play
Messy Play Classes In Waltham Forest

Is free play good for toddlers?

Blog
03/06/2024

Free play… what actually is it? Basically, free play is where a child can lead their own play, make their own decisions and explore learning as they want to!

Did you know that Little Learners Wakefield classes and events are child-led? Our classes start with a song, and we love to dance our Mark Maker of the weeks mark. It is then over to the children to explore and play in the trays and discover all the activities we have available for our weekly theme, with guidance and support from me, (Joanna… Hello!), their parents, grandparents or guardians. If you have ever wondered why you should let your toddler engage in free play then read on to discover all the benefits it can give your child.

Is free play good for toddlers?
A child enjoys some free play in a tuff tray!

As parents we are bombarded from the birth of our child, and antenatally, about the importance of giving our children the best start in life. It can be overwhelming knowing what we should do for the best, often filled with self-doubt that we are doing the best we can.

Giving your toddler plenty of opportunities to learn through free play is going to give them numerous developmental benefits that will set them up for lifelong learning and promote their well-being.

Here are just a few ways free play within our Little Learners Wakefield educational messy play and mark making classes will benefit your toddler…

A boost to their cognitive development via Free Play:

When playing freely within a tuff tray, exploring the trays contents children can develop their creativity and imagination. By allowing them to explore freely instead of them being told where and what to do they can invent their own stories and ways to engage with the materials, often showing us adults new ways to interact with things around us.

Is free play good for toddlers?

Learning to scoop some rice with a spade or using their pincher grip to pick up some sweetcorn toddlers are developing their use of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and learning ways to adapt their play to achieve their desired outcome. This can also help children to learn resilience. As adults we can support our little learners by modelling how we overcome failure ourselves. Showing our toddlers that we find something challenging, then failing, taking some breaths to show how we manage our frustration and then trying again until we get success, is a great way of teaching them how to regulate their own feelings/frustrations when they fail and to not be afraid of failure. A great life skill to learn.

During my classes one of the things I love to hear is the toddlers engaging in conversations, either with themselves, their peers or their parents/guardians as they play and interact with the materials. This interaction will help them to expand their vocabulary and improve their language skills.

free play in action at little learners wakefield

Healthy and active start:

As a qualified PE teacher with over 10 years teaching experience in the U.K. and internationally, I have seen first-hand how important it is to focus on developing your child’s physical literacy from an early age. By allowing your child to engage in free play which has been thoughtfully set up and planned for them, they will be able to practice and refine their motor skills.

Within our lessons at Little Learners Wakefield, you will always find fine motor skills toys and activities for your little learners to engage with. These activities for example stacking cups or picking up small objects like poms poms or peas will help them to develop the muscle strength, coordination and dexterity required to master those all-important early writing skills. Our messy play classes also provide a unique and engaging way for toddlers to stay active whilst having lots of fun learning through play. I often get lots of comments from our parents who say how amazing their child’s naps are after our classes!

Free Plays and social & emotional well-being:

As previously mentioned, in our child led messy play and mark making classes our little learners are free to explore. This also means there are lots of opportunities for them to engage with the other children and learn important skills such as taking turns and sharing. We all know how the object in another child’s hands becomes what your child decides they must also have straight away…cue the tantrum! Through playing in the tuff trays with their peers, they learn to develop cooperation and empathy, as well as important conflict resolution skills. All of these are essential for them to learn to establish healthy relationships as they grow and for later in life.

Free play in class as a little one explores a messy play tuff tray at Little Learners Wakefield

One of the things I have really noticed since I started running my classes with my daughter is the development of her social skills, including her confidence and independence. For those of you who have attended my classes you will know how confident Myla is when you all arrive, and many have had her come and sit on your lap or come and pass you random objects during the class as she just loves to be social and interact with you. It has been lovely to see, especially as a mum who decided not to send her to nursery and start a business where I can work alongside her. I always felt guilty that she would miss out on the important social aspects that nursery provides, I am glad my classes have proved I needn’t have worried.

Messy play can provide so many opportunities for toddlers to build a sense of independence and self-esteem as they navigate different play scenarios and encounter new objects and materials each week. As they develop you will see them more willing to take on new challenges and try new things. Often our least messy little learners go on to be our messiest mark makers as their confidence grows!

In conclusion, free play has an abundance of developmental benefits for your toddler and when they attend our messy play and mark making classes in Wakefield, they are getting so much more than just having fun. They are gaining vital skills for their early childhood development that will set them on the right path for future learning and life skills.

Embrace the power of messy play and watch your toddler flourish in all areas of growth and development. Join one of our Little Learners Wakefield classes or events now, or book us for their birthday party and give your toddler the best start in life.

Joanna, Little Learners Wakefield

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  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?
  • Is free play good for toddlers?