Play & Learn

The Importance of Open-ended Play

ByEdamama Editorial TeamOctober 6, 2022
Kids playing with building blocks
When it comes to playtime, there is no right or wrong way to do it. There aren’t any solid rules children have to follow.
Children are encouraged to freely express their imaginations, desires, and creativity through open-ended play. No regulations exist. There aren't any guidelines. There aren't any rules. There are no proper or improper ways to play. During the edamama expo, Dr. Joanna Pamela Cuayo-Estanislao talks about the importance of encouraging children to partake in open-ended play and all the benefits of doing so.
She mentioned that it’s “very important part of your child’s early development” since “young children learn primarily through play.” This way of learning allows your child to explore different concepts they’ve learned and discover new and different concepts through play. If you want to know more about this method of learning, read on and see how you can apply this to your little ones!
Open Ended Toys Vs. Made for Purpose Toys
Dr. Joanna discussed the key differences between open-ended toys and made for purpose toys as well as the difference of each type when it comes to your child’s learning process and capabilities. When your children are still young, their brains are like sponges, so initiating education bits during play time is key to their development.
Made for Purpose
Made for purpose toys differ from open-ended ones in the sense that these items have a clear or concise beginning and end. It also has a predetermined conclusion or goal that the child has to reach. A perfect example of this would be any kind of puzzle such as the shape box puzzle boxes.
These teach kids that there is a clear goal - to put the block through the correct shape so they end up inside the box. These tasks teach them patience and task completion. While it encourages them to think and be determined enough to finish the task, it doesn’t allow much room for creativity or expression.
On the other hand, open-ended toys have no definite start or end points. With these toys, kids have no guidelines or instructions to follow as there’s no “proper” or correct way to play with these.
These types of toys are perfect for encouraging a child’s creativity and curiosity since, according to Dr. Joanna, these toys “allow them to express themselves in different ways especially if they aren’t able to do it verbally yet.”
Some examples of open-ended toys are building blocks and dolls. Building blocks are great open-ended toys as they can be assembled any way your child sees fit. It can be a castle, a car, a building, etc. Dolls, on the other hand, help foster your children’s imaginations since kids are encouraged to imagine and assign rolls for the dolls to take on. The dolls and blocks can be anything your child imagines them to be.
According to Dr. Joanna, even regular, normal items such as cups, paper, chairs, and the like can be used in open-ended play since these materials “allow them to craft their decision making skills and their communication.”
Cerah Hernandez, fellow mommy and host during the edamama expo, also shared that while this may be seen as a form of “lazy parenting” it’s also a technique that “allows kids to be kids.” After all, kids learn from their actions and using these toys are the perfect way of allowing them to freely do so.
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