Category - Children’s development

Let kids be bored: why unstructured time is important for kids
6 amazing benefits of music in children’s development and education

Let kids be bored: why unstructured time is important for kids


Every parent wants the best for their child. But sometimes they take it to the extreme and expect their kids to be toppers in every field of life: we hear about parents, whose kids attend different classes every day: ballet, piano lessons, foreign language courses, the list goes on. Some want to give their kids a better start in life and equip them with skills they may need in the future, some want them to do something constructive with their free time, finally some are afraid of their kids getting into trouble because of too much free time. However, recent studies prove that unstructured time  can be beneficial for children at least as much as organized activities.

What is unstructured time?

Unstructured time or unstructured play is the kind of activities that children do in a form of play, usually without the guidance of parents. Unlike structured play, free play is not controlled by teachers, parents etc, it doesn’t have a clear objective or a set of rules. National Association for Sport and Physical Education advises that preschoolers should  engage in some form of unstructured play for at least 60 minutes a day

Why is free play so important for kids?

1. It is crucial for children’s development.

According to Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine from January 2005 free play is essential when it comes to intellectual and cognitive growth, emotional intelligence etc. Free play helps children learn how to collaborate with their peers, strengthening their social skills as a results. It is the time when they get to know how to cooperate, deal with conflicts, learn leadership skills. The benefits of free play were a topic of book written by a Boston College psychology professor Peter Gray. In his book Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life he describes how free play influences the development of executive function in kids:

”Free play is nature’s means of teaching children that they are not helpless. In play, away from adults, children really do have control and can practice asserting it. In free play, children learn to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, create and abide by rules, and get along with others as equals rather than as obedient or rebellious subordinates.”

2. It influences their social success in adulthood. According to a new study conducted at the University of Hildesheim, in Germany, there is a corellation between free play in childhood and social success in later years. The researchers surveyed 134 adults and asked them to recall their play experiences in childhood in details and report developmental status with an impact on social success. Those involved in free play in their childhood were more socially successful in comparison to adults who did not.

“Play is the highest form of research.” (1)

3. It supports creativity. Unstructured play is the time when children come up with the most creative ideas. An empty box can become a vehicle, blankets and chairs turn into a fortress etc. When creating their world during unstructured play, kids are not limited by any rules or expectations: they create, improvise, act. 

4. It helps kids learn about the world. Unstructured time lets kids discover the environment and learn about it. With the help of a free play children experiment, try new things and get to know about the things that surround them.

5. It provides joy! Last but not the least, let’s not forget that unstructured play brings huge happiness for kids.

How can you do to promote free play without imposing your definition of a play?

1. Decrease screen time – the number of kids preferring outdoor activities to screen time is decreasing with each year. Try to decrease the time your child spends using digital media and encourage them to spend time in an active way.

2. Let children play outside – outdoor environment allows children to be in contact with nature, free their imagination and experience things.

3.Stop worrying about your children being bored – many parents try to organize time for their children fearing they might get bored. Children are extremely creative creatures and they manage to come up with ways of spending free time even if they don’t have access to any toys. 

4. Give them some suggestion from time to time. Aha Parenting provides a great concept: creating a Boredom Buster Jar: a jar full of ideas for spending time in a creative way.

5. Stop expecting the best out of your child in every field. Peter Gray states that nowadays kids are pawns in a competitive game in which the adults around them are trying to squeeze the highest possible scores out of them on standardized tests.” Remember that playing is an important part of childhood and never deprive your kids of it.


Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Magdalena | Appetite For Education

P.S. Stay updated! If you don’t want to miss any posts and infographics, subscribe to our newsletter.

6 amazing benefits of music in children’s development and education

portrait of cute boy playing a guitar on summer field

Music is present in our lives every day. We hear it on the radio, while we watch TV commercials, commute to work, do the shopping. Since it seems to be an inseparable part of our existence, scientists became interested in its influence on people’s lives, especially children. Did you know that apart from the obvious entertainment it brings, it also has several benefits in children’s development and education? It doesn’t matter whether your child is dancing, listening to the music or playing an instrument – any exposure to music can bring incredible advantages to your child.


1. Better grades at school

One of the most spectacular benefits of music is its influence on students’ performance at school. Example? Here you go: Students who took courses in music performance and music appreciation had higher scores in the SAT in comparison to students who didn’t take part in such courses. There is also a strong connection between music and the development of mathematical thinking. For instance, music can be used to teach pattern recognition to kids. Check out this article to see what exactly maths and music have in common. Many pupils listen to music while studying, as they claim it helps them remember things, which leads us to the second advantage….

2. Improved memory

In the past people thought that music affected only the right part of brain responsible for creativity. However, later the scientists discovered that music affects many parts of brain, including the area responsible for memory. Think about how children learn alphabet with the help of this famous ABC song or pick up new words when listening to music in foreign languges. If your child keeps forgetting thing, music might be a solution! 

3. Socio-emotional development

Playing an instrument in a musical group or singing together can help children socialize and create a bond, developing their communication skills as a result. Additionally, music is a great way to boost child’s self esteem and it allows them to learn or practice self-regulation (ability to manage ones emotion and physical state). 

4. Boost in creativity

Singing, inventing new songs, playing musical instruments, dancing to music– all of these activities are a great way to foster creativity in kids. Music allows children to make mistakes, explore and come up with their own ideas. 

5. Language & literacy development 

According to one study by Gromko students who participate in musical training develop skills for spoken sounds and words faster than children who don’t receive musical training. “Speech and music have a number of shared processing systems. Musical experiences which enhance processing can therefore impact on the perception of language which in turn impacts on learning to read.” – says Susan Hallam from Institute of Education University of London. According to a different study ”phonemic awareness skills may be improved by music training because both music and language processing require the ability to segment streams of sound into small perceptual units.” 


6. Special-temporal intelligence

Finally, music can help children in visualizing things: picturing a spacial pattern and understanding how pieces fit into space. In one study children who received piano lessons showed a 34% increase in spatial-temporal intelligence while there was no change in children in the other groups 


How to bring your child closer to music?

Your child doesn’t seem to be so fond of music? Check out these ideas to get your kids to like it.

8 ways to bring children closer to music:

  • Introduce them to your favorite songs or musicians from childhood.
  • Encourage them to start playing an instrument or enroll in a band. See this great article: How to get your child excited to play a musical instrument.
  • Sing together in a car or while preparing a meal.
  • Organize a karaoke night.
  • Expose them to different types of music
  • Get to know what kind of music they like and take them to concert or gift them a CD with their favorite songs
  • Teach them action songs that encourage them to move
  • Get an app that will allow them to create their own tracks/songs

Music plays an important factor in kids’ development since their birth, If you want to see how exactly you can support their development with music from early age, check out this chart where you can find out how to support children’s development through music when they are still little.

Who knows, maybe you are raising next Mozart? 🙂


Thanks for reading and see you soon.

Magdalena | Appetite For Education

P.S. Stay updated! If you don’t want to miss any posts and infographics, subscribe to our newsletter.


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