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Power of Play Blog

Parent Play Tip: Let Kids Explore Freely

By Sarah Dybicz

“The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that.” – Nagle Jackson, American author, and playwright

At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we’re all about open-ended play and providing a safe space where kids can explore freely. Why? Because when kids have the time and space to explore freely, they find their own interests, enhance their curiosity, make new connections and discoveries, and become passionate about learning. Pretty powerful, right?

What Can You Do?  

You can help your child get the most out of play — at the museum, at home, and anywhere else they play — by empowering them to explore freely. This means you have to let go a bit. Avoid directing them, suggesting specific outcomes or telling them “the right way” to do things. Let them choose what they want to explore and discover what sparks their interest. “Their way” will likely be a wonderful surprise!

This doesn’t mean you’re not engaged at all in the play. You can be a great play partner by following their lead and asking open-ended questions:

  • “Where do you want to explore?”
  • “Where should we start?”
  • “What do you want to do?”

These types of questions encourage your child to think critically and creatively.

Discover Something New

Giving your child space and time to explore freely provides many benefits to your child. And, there’s something special in it just for you too — you’ll likely discover something new about your child just by observing them explore freely. And, that can be incredibly insightful and powerful.

Happy playing! Get more information on the power of play at mcm.org/parent-resources.

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    Parent resources are funded in part with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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