Predictors of unstructured play amongst preschool children in Australia

Bronwyn Harman
Craig Harms
Edith Cowan University

There is evidence that unstructured play for preschool aged children is diminishing in Australia, however, the reasons for this decline have not been previously explored in depth. The current research examines the amount of time preschool children spend engaged in unstructured play and the predictors of unstructured play for these children. Data is drawn from the results of 564 Australian parent participants who completed an online survey, detailing the activities of their preschool aged children. Results found that children who participated in playgroup were more likely to participate in unstructured play, while children who participated in organised activities were less likely to participate in unstructured play. When the children in this study slept longer, read more and watched television less, they were more likely to participate in unstructured play, however, the number of hours spent watching television has no apparent effect on the number of hours a child engages in play. This research emphasises and reinforces the importance of balance in activities for optimal health and positive outcomes for Australian children.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 42 Number 3 September 2017.

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