Giggles, magic, imagination, creativity. These are the most amazing sounds and experiences that you have likely witnessed inside of your home, at a park, or maybe you even have a rich memory like this from your own childhood.

Whether it be house, dinosaurs, real life video games, super heroes, forts, fairies, and any other pretend play scenario that comes to mind, amazing wonderment is present in a child’s imagination. As I think of these ideas, I can feel the excitement and the creativity begin to flow, as the imagination, learning, and creativity help a child grow and develop into amazing people.

It is stated in the book, Balance and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom, that play is a child’s work. Free play assists motor development, sensory development, social-emotional development, executive functioning, and creativity (Hanscom).

With the sharp decline of free play over the last half decade, a sharp incline of anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness and narcissism (Gray, 2014).” With this alarming fact, it is pertinent to allow a child sufficient time throughout the day to explore his or her environment through free play.

So…What Can You Do At Home?

  • Follow your child’s imagination and sensory choices
  • Become a character in the play scheme
  • 15 minutes per day of free play can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety in children.
  • Feel empowered to say “no” to another structured activity on the schedule, planned event, etc.
  • Provide open-ended play opportunities and materials – use that refrigerator box!

Parent Resources:


This post was written in collaboration between our wonderful OT Team members; Megan Barrow, MS, OTR/L, Joshua Brown, OTD, OTR/L, Tom Miller-Bishoff MS, OTR/L, Ashley Verbick, COTA/L