Self Directed Play

Self Directed Play is the concept of allowing children to play without an imposed framework, on their own, without adult interference. 

It is defined by play that is:

  • Freely Chosen - by determining and controlling the content and intent of their play​

  • Personally Directed- by following their own instincts, ideas and interests​

  • Intrinsically Motivated- playing in their own way for their own reasons (PPSG 2005).

Self Directed Play Readings

The Amazing Benefits of Self-Directed Play

By: Anna Housley Juster, Ph.D.

An excerpt from Pop-Up Adventure Play's P.L.A.Y. guide. This document is one that explains self directed play in a fashion that easily describes how children will benefit from this type of play and an acrostic for P.L.A.Y. 

Free To Learn

By: Peter Gray

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. The abstract states: "n Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that in order to foster children who will thrive in today's constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development"

Unstructured Play and Children's Development

By: Jennifer Baker, Ph.D.

This article discusses  research-based approaches to parenting with structured play and unstructured play.  There is evidence showing that unstructured play might be associated with signs of self-directed executive function in young children. But like anything else there is room for many types of activities- structured and unstructured. 

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