Zolie Ozero and  Callan Church enjoy free play in the sandbox at Cedar Bridge School.

Zolie Ozero and Callan Church enjoy free play in the sandbox at Cedar Bridge School.

Free play is essential for kids

Taking a cue from Einstein, Cedar Bridge School puts the emphasis on imagination

Was baby Einstein watching TV or engaging in free play?

Think back to your favourite childhood memories. Perhaps it’s playing hide-and-seek with all the kids in the neighbourhood, staying up late on summer evenings and roasting marshmallows over a fire, or building a fort with your best friend and creating the most elaborate make-believe game. The common thread in these things — free play time.

Free play gives young children the time and space to play and be at their own pace, and explore the limitless boundaries of their imaginations. It also gives them a chance to play out and re-enact situations in their lives that they need to work through: conversations, interactions and other things that they don’t understand.

Today we sign our children up for dance class, swimming lessons, soccer and more. And our busy lives have us driving to and from the grocery store/daycare/other errands with our children in tow. At home, television or computer games entice our children to sit motionless on the couch and be entertained by something created by someone else’s imagination.

Statistics show that the average child spends almost 14 hours per week watching television. Add to that the time spent in front of computer, video or Wii game or some form of iPhone/iPad and there is little time left for kids to engage their imagination in their own child-led play.

As Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Giving young children free play time to explore their wonderful imaginations will only benefit them in their adult years to come. Whether they grow up to be doctors, lawyers, teachers or carpenters, the ability to think outside the box and be truly innovative will require the cultivation of creativity and imagination at a young age.

Allowing them to play and engage in games of their own creation also cultivates strength of will. Digging in the sandbox, building forts, climbing trees, and organizing kick-the-can requires determination, physical strength, coordination and social skills — all at their own prerogative.

Cedar Bridge School’s early childhood programs offers the nurturing environment and natural materials that inspire free play in the classroom and the play yard. Their programs include time for baking, singing, story time and helping with the chicken and bunny care.

Cedar Bridge is accepting enrolment in Parent and Tot, preschool and kindergarten for September. They invite you to their open house, “A day in School” Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school is at 730 Whitevale Rd., Lumby.  Please call to register.

Cedar Bridge School is a non-profit organization. For enrolment inquires and to learn about the school and its programs, check out www.cedarbridgeschool.org or call 250-547-9212.