Play for kids is far more important that we may think. Play gives kids an opportunity to create their own worlds without boundaries, set their own rules and explore interactions with their peers. Unstructured play, that is play which is not bound by rules and structured by outsiders is incredibly good for the child’s mind, it is possibly the best type of play for the developing mind.
When your child is playing with others in unstructured play they naturally will form their own bounds, rules and scenarios, they are finding their place in the world, experimenting with what works, what does not.
There are some toys which allow unstructured play even if your child is alone. These toys are commonly things like blocks, cardboard boxes, inanimate toys and balls. Each of these toys can be adapted to form their own games, used to create their own worlds and spaces within the imagination of a child.
In the modern world more and more structured games and toys are taking the place of those which allow for free thinking and creativity. Unfortunately these type of games whilst fun limit the creative mind and are not allowing the maximal development of the mind, the understanding of interactions with others or even allowing for the discovery of their own interpretation of how the world fits together.
Far too often games on a screen fit into the structured category, high intensity, loud flashing noise games are not ideal for the young mind. Even so called educational games are quite ridged in what they allow from the user. They place many constraints on the young user and prevents them from creating their own world and creations; they can not test what works what does not work and what will happen if the rules are broken.
Perhaps the best type of game for the young mind is something like one of the most popular games in recent times, Minecraft, the freedom to create and explore your own world is great. Strategy games which require thinking, problem solving and dealing with limitations in a creative way may also be good for brain.
Encouraging play without a screen is a great idea, limit screen time to avoid the temptation to resort to a screen for all play activities. Encourage unstructured play time, whether it is with friends, siblings or by themselves with toys that encourage creating their own world. You can encourage free play by having toys and arts and crafts items easily available for use, start provide toys that encourage this type of play early and delay the introduction of screens and more structured board games till later.
If screen are already a part of your child's normal play time consider how you can change it, what could you do to decrease screen time and more time creating their own games and interacting with the world around them. Tools like Pixel Pounds can help you limit your child’s time in front a screen and more time doing things that are important for their development.