The approach we recommend for helping your child get the most from their free time doesn’t have to cost anything – it’s about giving them time to play.
Playing with their friends will bring your child all sorts of positive benefits. You don’t need to fill their lives with other, expensive activities. When asked, children say they want more time to play with their friends and good places where they can play outside.
Here are our top tips to help you make time for your child to play:
Children and adults have a different idea of what ‘quality time’ means. Your child needs time to play and they want to know that you are around if they need you.
Playing is very important for children’s learning, and for their physical and emotional health. It is just as important as lessons, homework or football practice – and it is what children usually tell us they want to do.
Children want to be outside. The time your child spends outdoors in natural environments with their friends will cost next to nothing.
It is important to encourage your child to go out and play. For some children it will be vital for you to limit their screen time as they might not be able to do it themselves - research suggests screen time may be addictive.
If you are worried about your child’s safety, find a way to keep an eye on them. Sit somewhere nearby, take a newspaper and a picnic, and let them play in their own way while you relax.
For centuries, children have loved dabbling in streams, playing rough and tumble games, building dens in woods, larking about in mud and rain, and making fairy houses from moss and leaves. These activities are valuable and timeless, and they don’t cost anything. Show your child that it’s okay to get muddy, make a dam, or pick and eat blackberries.
There are lots of cheap or free alternatives to ‘holiday activities’ and to expensive toys and games. Find out about local playschemes, adventure playgrounds or scrapstores.