18 Dec 2014

Parenting over the holidays - free play is vital

From Nine To Noon, 11:24 am on 18 December 2014

school age boys playing with cat and pebbles

Children are off school until the end of January, and many parents feel the pressure to improve their kid's academic and sporting skills over the holidays. But is that the best thing for their development?

Scott Duncan of AUT's Human Potential Centre says research is increasingly showing that free play is vital for children’s development. He says parents should let their kids roam free as much as they can over the holidays, doing activities without parents, such as building forts, climbing trees and using their imaginations.

Dr Duncan says playing without direction from adults helps kids develop resilience and learn to deal with risk.

And if parents feel pressured to hot-house their children over the holidays to give them a head start next year, they should remember that this is not the best way to ensure kids are happy and socially balanced.  

“what is it we're actually aiming for here, is it a child who achieves brilliantly academically but is not particularly happy, or or is the other way round?"

Dr Scott Duncan talks to Kathryn Ryan about the importance of free play.