The Benefits of Unstructured Playtime

A Parent’s Guide to Play

Unstructured play is both a building block for kids and a lesson to parents. Breaking down boundaries unleashes the full power—and joy—of play. Jaycina Almond, mom to Syx and founder of Tender, a nonprofit that provides support to single mothers, shares three insights on the importance of unstructured play.

Last updated: August 23, 2022
3 min read
Three benefits of unstructured play
  1. Playtime is perfect for bonding.

    Jaycina’s earliest memories of play are the hours spent bonding with her sister while playing with dolls. Today, playing with Syx builds and strengthens their relationship and provides a break from the hustle of daily life. “When we play, I learn the most about her—how her mind works and what she’s interested in and curious about. I get to meet her over and over again.”
  2. Play lets kids’ imaginations run wild.

    Solo or with a friend, play empowers kids to get creative. “It’s cool to see my daughter immerse herself in a world that she created,” Jaycina says. Imaginative play also encourages Syx, an only child, to develop a sense of independence separate from their shared routines.
  3. Play helps kids grow and learn.

    There’s more to play than just having fun—it can impact physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. “Play is the way kids’ brains make connections,” Jaycina says. She encourages a hands-off approach to play: sit back and let them take the reins.
Three benefits of unstructured play
Three benefits of unstructured play

“When we let kids figure things out themselves, they have a roadmap that opens them up to even more learning.”

Jaycina Almond,
Mom to Syx and Founder of Tender

For more expert advice on Play, Sport, and Wellness, explore our Parent's Guides to Back to School.

Related Stories

A Parent's Guide to Back to School

A Parent’s Guide

Supporting Your Kids for Back-to-School

How to support your kids from the sidelines

A Parent’s Guide to Sport

The Best Ways to Cheer from the Sidelines

Tips for talking with your kids

A Parent’s Guide to Wellness

Tips for Talking with Your Kids

How to play to the fullest

A Parent’s Guide to Play

How to Make Fun Time Meaningful

Life lessons to be learned from sport

A Parent’s Guide to Sport

What Kids Can Learn from Competition