Giving children the freedom and space to Play Free is an essential part of their development, allowing children to learn about the world around them and use their imagination! [i]
Free Play also develops children’s essential social skills and fosters their physical and cognitive development, giving them the chance to learn about negotiation, cause and effect and team playing. [ii]
Parenting expert and Petits Filous ambassador, Anita Cleare, says “Free play has no externally set learning goals, it is self-directed learning fuelled by fun and curiosity…During free play, children (not adults) choose what they want to do, how they want to do it and when they want to stop.” [iii]
Petits Filous, the No 1 kids’ fromage frais brand in the UK, has been dedicated to child development for the last 30 years. Petits Filous are extending their focus from the functional benefits of their products – calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones[iv] – to the importance of Free Play for children’s development. Petits Filous are therefore encouraging parents (and other caregivers, such as grandparents) to embrace the idea of Free Play, as a priority.
Boredom = Good
Free Play challenges the negative perception of boredom in children. Across the country, many parents dread the phrase “I’m bored” and are quick to provide their children with bustling activities to fill their time. Anita Cleare says, “Through repeated experimentation, children learn the fundamental principles of the universe” and discouraging parents to jump in when their children are playing is key to ensuring children get all the benefits from free play. “Free Play is child-led and child-driven, so let them follow their natural instinct to play, without the guilt of feeling you need to step in and entertain them. Find a safe environment where it’s ok to make a mess!” [v]
Play Free in Action
As part of the Petits Filous Play Free campaign, Ambassador Anita Cleare challenged a group of families to let their children be bored, with the aim of stimulating the power and concept of Free Play. Parents were encouraged to supervise but not get involved in their children’s play, allowing youngsters to play without direction.
Each family then shared their experience with Anita Cleare, who provided advice on how to make this a more prominent part of their children’s lives.
Laura Dove from Five Little Doves saw great results from the challenge and saw her kids play with toys in ways that they never had before.
“Without technology my children had simply reverted back to free play in a way that my brother and I had done, all of those years ago, before technology came along and stole a little of our childhoods. In that first half hour they may play with a toy in the conventional way but an hour in they may have created a whole new use for a toy – a regular garage may have become a space station, a truck a flying saucer, and those ideas just grow and grow”.
Nell Heshram from The Pigeon Pair and Me saw an increase in her child's confidence following the challenge.
“My daughter, in particular, seems to have grown in confidence. Since the challenge has started, by coincidence she’s performed on stage in front of the whole year group of parents, and recited a poem to her class, off by heart. She managed both with aplomb. Play is supposed to work wonders in building children’s self-esteem, but I hadn’t expected it to have quite such a quick effect”.
[iv] EU Authorised Claim: ‘Calcium and vitamin D are needed for normal growth and development of bone in children’