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Systematic review of the impact of unstructured play interventions to improve young children's physical, social, and emotional wellbeing

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  • Regina Lai Tong Lee
  • Shelly Lane
  • Graeme Brown
  • Cynthia Leung
  • Stephen Wai Hang Kwok
  • Sally Wai Chi Chan

Abstract

This review aimed to examine the effectiveness of unstructured play interventions on young children's physical, emotional and social wellbeing in various community settings. Eligibility criteria of articles included (1) studies which included young children aged three to seven years; (2) intervention studies which involved unstructured, free or loose parts play; (3) experimental or randomized controlled trial designs, with or without random allocation to groups; and (4) target variables of the study should include measurable physical, social or psychological constructs as modifiable outcomes. Electronic searches were conducted from June 2018 to March 2019 in ERIC, MEDLINE, PubMed, ProQuest, Sage Publications, Web of Science, Scopus, and Sociological Abstracts. Data were extracted from the included studies independently by using a pilot form. The study outcome measures of unstructured play in the eight selected articles were categorized into three aspects of children's physical health, social skills and emotional wellbeing. All studies reported positive impacts on children's physical activity level, social engagement and emotional wellbeing. We conclude that our review with identified impacts would assist future research directions and policy implementation in this promising field..

Suggested Citation

  • Regina Lai Tong Lee & Shelly Lane & Graeme Brown & Cynthia Leung & Stephen Wai Hang Kwok & Sally Wai Chi Chan, 2020. "Systematic review of the impact of unstructured play interventions to improve young children's physical, social, and emotional wellbeing," Nursing & Health Sciences, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 22(2), pages 184-196, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:nuhsci:v:22:y:2020:i:2:p:184-196
    DOI: 10.1111/nhs.12732
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