Parents' Understandings of and Involvement in Children's Free-Play

  • Author / Creator
    Stenberg, Keely
  • There has been a decline in children’s free-play participation, despite the importance of this experience for their health and development (Gleave, 2009). Parents can facilitate a range of free-play experiences (Sleddens et al., 2012) through their pivotal role in children’s lives (Hertzman & Power, 2004). This study is part of a larger research project assessing free-play based recreation preschool programming. The aim of this thesis is to determine parents’ perceptions of free-play, including their understanding of and involvement in this experience. This thesis aligns with a constructivist paradigm, relativist ontology, and subjectivist epistemology, acknowledging that the prevailing culture and environment impact perceptions, which necessitates the researcher to explore multiple constructions within their work. One-on-one semi-structured interviews with parents of preschool-aged children were conducted for this instrumental case study. The results indicate that parents highly value children’s free-play. Parents identify free-play as an opportunity for children to make choices and direct their experiences in solitary, partner, or group dynamics. Parents suggest that free-play contributes to several important factors that children can benefit from immediately and later in life. Furthermore, parents are continuously involved in children’s free-play through their direct and indirect participation, and intervention. Parents intervene in their children’s play to teach and support their children’s knowledge, development, and health, and to prevent or protect their children from negative or harmful experiences. There are several implications of this work particularly salient to practice, policy, and future research, which may help to address the decline of children’s participation in free-play.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
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