Free Play and Learning Through Play Theory

We all know children love to play! But did you know that play also comes with mental, physical, and social benefits? Learning through play theory indicates that activity on the playground is more important than you’d think.

Free play is a play style where children decide their own play conditions on their terms. When children engage in free play, their imagination takes free reign, without influences from external conditions or suggestions from adults. While adults still oversee this play, they only need to intervene when concerned with safety.

Children benefit in many ways from being given space to play out their own games and narratives; let’s explore how…


Children should feel free to take their play in whichever direction they prefer. This is because it provides an opportunity for children to communicate ideas and instructions to their peers. Therefore, they can make enjoyable and creative games together.

This results in children developing the essential abilities to share, take turns and make friends- all part of healthy emotional and social development. It’s important to let kids discover their own social capabilities and explore their interests and friendship dynamics at their own pace.


Without external limits imposed on their play, children will naturally be creative and develop their imagination in new ways, thinking outside the box and discovering their own worlds and stories.

This lends itself to an independent and confident mentality which is helpful throughout education, both in creative subjects and anywhere requiring logical thinking and problem-solving.

A fun playground design based around encouraging storytelling and interaction is a great way to excite children’s imagination. Combing the physical playground with their internal imaginations in their free play time makes for the perfect atmosphere for creativity and self-expression.

Language Development

When children have more independence in play, they will organically learn how to move and communicate in an effective way through interaction with their environments and their peers.

Children will learn how to communicate their feelings, wants, and needs to their playmates. This helps children develop the ability to communicate calmly and effectively. Allowing children to work at their own pace and engage with their interests and friends in ways that work for them is vital to encourage confidence when learning through play.

Children Playing
Encouraging Safe Free Play

With all of these advantages, parents and primary schools everywhere are keen to introduce free play to their playgrounds. But how can you do this while maintaining the safety of your children?

Parents and carers can relax knowing that their children’s play areas are protected by safety surfacing. Our shock pad underlays to minimize fall damage, with care given to address safety to specific critical fall height limits depending on your playground equipment. Combining free play and creativity with safety considerations provides children with a secure space to play and be themselves.

Helping children accelerate their learning through play while providing the best safety surfacing and playground flooring to keep them safe and secure is very important to us here at PlaySmart. So from artificial grass safety surfaces to fireproof mats, PlaySmart provides everything you need for your custom playground design!

Optimise your Playground to Accommodate these Principles of Learning through Play Theory

Play Smart’s wide range of products can help you find a surfacing option that fits your aesthetic and safety needs.

Don’t forget to view our case studies for inspiration, and learn more about our products.

Get in touch today with our handy contact form or by calling 01564 721811. Our friendly advisors will be more than happy to help and guide you on your next project.

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