Free Play

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The phrase Free Play is used in many early childhood settings to describe child-led activity that is less restrictive and adult-planned than other activities that may also be described as Play.

Here at Playvolution HQ, we argue that the FREE is an unnecessary modifier since, by definition, real play is implicitly free.

Activities labeled as play that do not allow the players freedom over what they are doing are not truly play. Real play is always free.

The illustration below and the related article, as well as Peter Gray’s wonderful article outlining the conditions of play are useful tools in differentiating between real play and play-like activity.

Contact us with questions, concerns, and comments about this Early Learning Glossary entry.

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Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

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