What is open ended play?

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Imagination, curiosity and creativity are some of the most amazing qualities in children and as parents we want to encourage those qualities but how exactly do, we do that? Open ended play is when fun is intertwined with creativity during play time. In current times we have forgotten what play means. We want to keep our kids busy with schedules so that they don’t feel bored. What they really need is unstructured play.

According to Michigan state university

“Open-ended play materials allow children to make choices, express their creativity and support their independence. Open-ended materials by definition do not have a pre-determined use. A block can be a car, phone, doll’s chair, ice-cream bar or any number of other things in play. It is through these experiences that children are able to learn best.”

Open ended allows children to express their creativity and they are free to make their own decisions and engage their imagination. There are no rules, sequential guidelines or correct answer or way to complete a task. As parents we want our children to grow up and be able to solve problems on their own, to be able to make decisions confidently and to navigate those decisions successfully and free play is the perfect way to help them develop those skills.

How to Encourage Open-Ended Play in Children

Everything starts at home including a child’s love and affinity for open-ended play. 

  1. Give your child the opportunity to learn to entertain themselves before providing them with entertainment. Let them get bored and soon you will realise that they have found a way to combat it. Most children turn to their creative instincts if this is done enough times.
  2. Arts and crafts without direction is another great way to foster independent thinking. Provide them with the tools and sit back as they create something of their own. 
  3. It’s tempting to fill your child’s day with multiple extracurricular activities. sometime in the day for your child is a great way to accommodate free play.
  4. Providing them the right toys. Rainbow Stackers are popular because they can be used thousands of different ways over the course of many years. In fact, rainbow stackers or peg dolls in the eyes of a child can be absolutely intriguing. Remember that stick that your child just won’t put down no matter what you do? Yes. Open-ended play doesn’t need fancy toys. It can be as simple as a leaf on the ground, a wooden stick, or as fancy as pickler triangles. The entire world is made up of open-ended play materials.

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