Unstructured learning is more than just play. It is removing the typical confinements of a classroom, allowing children to learn in an organic, natural method that feels right to them. Parents and educators must remember that play and unstructured learning is crucial for a child's well-rounded education.
Unstructured learning has no set rules or details about how it must happen. The child makes his own decisions about the learning. Your child might play with blocks or draw with sidewalk chalk. The options are truly never-ending, and it encourages your child to use their senses to discover the world around them.
The Benefits of Unstructured Learning
When you imagine unstructured learning, understand that it is a trial and error style of learning. It focuses on the child's individual interests and abilities. Kids are naturally drawn to what interests them, such as playing with a pretend kitchen or cars.
It encourages a positive connection to learning.
Often times, children have a bad association with learning and school. Unstructured learning helps to replace these negative associations of school with positivity. Unfortunately, schools are removing recess time, forcing children to sit for longer periods. It helps children love learning on their own.
Unstructured learning helps to develop your child's cognitive ability.
You may not realize it, but unstructured learning encourages cognitive development. Kids have the freedom to create and make mistakes. It helps to develop their understanding of the world around them as they explore. Kids have to come to their own conclusions and thoughts about things before they can learn educational facts.
Children enhance their social skills.
Kids love to play together! When kids play, they solve problems together. They learn how to share, teamwork, and cooperation. The games kids play together help to encourage structure and rule following.
It provides an outlet to reduce stress and help kids express their feelings.
When your child has unstructured learning time, it gives time for kids to express their feelings through play. For example, if a child is upset after a visit to the doctor's office and receiving a shot, the child may act out their experience on a baby doll. If your child misses his father, he may make up a story where his dad is with him. Kids who use their imagination allow their emotions to come out, and it strengthens their coping abilities.
Examples of Unstructured Learning
It can be hard to imagine and understand the differences in learning and play. These activities are open-ended and not rule-governed. Kids have to use their imagination as they use different learning materials. Some examples of unstructured learning include:
- Play kitchen with pretend food
- Mr. Potato Head
- Wooden Blocks
- Baby Dolls
- Playing Dress Up
- Toy Trains, Cars, and Trucks
- Creative Writing Assignments
- Science Experiments
- Art Time