Why loose parts play?
The topic of Loose Parts Play has become very popular over the last few years. The reason the subject has become so popular is that people are starting to realise that Loose parts play, the ability to freely explore and create within an enriched environment, is something very precious. It is also something that for many children is now absent.
I could talk at length about the benefits of Loose Parts Play for childrenu2019s brain development, mental health and resilience. As well as confidence, leadership skills, self-awareness, fine and gross motor skills and potentially even life expectancy!
Instead, I am going to talk about something so precious it is the one thing that makes us uniquely human.
If a child looks at a group of random loose parts resources and sees endless possibilities, and has the freedom to explore those possibilities, they create a virtual firework display of neurological activity in their brain. This unlocks creative potential in a way that is profoundly important. Being joyfully creative, spontaneous and exploring the flexibility inherent in a loose parts environment are key factors in developing imagination, innovation and divergent thinking. The worldu2019s greatest thinkers, the individuals who have pushed the boundaries of their subject and potentially changed the world, share this wonderful ability to think creatively and come up with unique solutions to problems.
Loose parts play is therefore not just vital for our children but potentially to our species as a whole! If Loose Parts Play is absent from our childrenu2019s lives where is the next generation of world changers going to come from?
u201cDragonu2019s Donu2019t Eat Peas!u201d
One of my cousins (not a real cousin but a friend of family type cousin) loved to pretend she was a dragon. She actually seemed to believe she really was a dragon, spending hours in her garden making u201cDragon nestsu201d out of old sticks and bedsheets.u00a0 I will never forget when being told by her parents to eat her peas she shouted,u00a0u201cDRAGONS DONu2019T EAT PEAS!u201d. To be honest we all thought she was a bit strange. She is now a successful writer. Maybe sheu00a0wasu00a0a little strange. But clearly her imagination has been crucial to her success in adult life and this is intrinsically linked to the loose parts play and imagination she experienced in childhood.
Or maybe she really was a dragon all along!
With thanks to Ben Kingston-Hughes for writing this article. Ben is an international keynote speaker, author and multi award-winning trainer. He is also the Managing Director of Inspired Children.
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Read more on Loose Parts Play in Little Miss Early Years blog, ‘Loose parts play for babies and pre-school aged children’.