The Origins of Free Play


Only too familiar are the complaints from parents and teachers that children are often utterly incapable of playing by themselves. Yet it rarely occurs to us that the adult’s behavior could be the cause of such passivity and lack of initiative. A child gets a lot more out of discovering for himself that a small cup fits into a larger one than he does from exhortation: “A big cup won’t fit into a smaller one!” Let us not overlook the fact that putting a plaything into a child’s hand is tantamount to suggesting play. The more complicated the toy, the more we make the child dependent on us.


This book eloquently describes modes of free play from the infant’s discovery of his hands to manipulation and experimentation with objects, to the stage of building things. Includes photographs. Published by the Pikler Institute, Budapest, Hungary.