Kids need free but safe play

Unstructured or free play is when the child is left more to his or her own devices - within a safe environment. During these times, a child should be able to choose from a variety of activities, such as exploring, playing with toys, painting and drawing, doing a puzzle, or playing dress-up.

Unstructured or free play is when the child is left more to his or her own devices - within a safe environment. During these times, a child should be able to choose from a variety of activities, such as exploring, playing with toys, painting and drawing, doing a puzzle, or playing dress-up.

During pretend play, pre-schoolers often like to take on a gender-specific role because they are beginning to identify with members of the same gender. A girl might pretend to be her mother by "working" in the garden, while a boy might mimic his dad by pretending to cut the lawn.

It's clear your pre-schooler is keeping an eye on how you spend your time, so set a good example by exercising regularly. Your child will pick up on this as something parents do, so naturally he or she will want to do it as well.

No matter what type of physical activity your child gets, it's important to keep safety concerns in mind.

Pre-schoolers are still developing coordination, balance, and judgment. So as your pre-schoolers play, your challenge will be to find a balance between letting your child try new things and doing what is necessary to keep him or her safe.

A child on a tricycle or bike should always wear a helmet. If you haven't done so already, it's time to talk about street safety, because even the most cautious pre-schooler may dart into the street after a ball.

A pre-schooler in the swimming pool needs constant supervision, even if he or she has learnt to swim. Kids want more independence, and should have some, but they cannot be left unsupervised.

Pre-schoolers still need their parents to set limits. By making sure your child has a good mix of opportunities to play in both organised and unstructured ways, you will be laying the groundwork for a fit lifestyle that will benefit your child for life. - Kids Health

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