Child-initiated play is freely chosen and directed by the child. The impulse for such play is intrinsically motivated and not linked to external rewards. Adults may support children’s play, but if they are providing the story line or directing the play, then it is no longer child-initiated. Child-initiated play allows children to pick themes that are meaningful to them and to get to know themselves and the world around them. Such play has been widely linked to the development of creativity, self-regulation, problem solving, and physical and social capacities. It takes many forms, but it can be roughly grouped into three categories: physical, social, and make-believe play.

Child-initiated play grows richer and more complex as children develop. Children need ample time to develop such play, but ...

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