Does Free Play vs. Teacher-Directed Play Affect Emotional Behavior in Young Children?

Date of Award


Document Type

Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




Play is an essential part of young children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical well being (Veiga, Neto, & Rieffe, 2016). This is an innate need and children benefit by being able to explore during free play as well as teacher directed play. Today’s classrooms have less free play and recess than only ten years ago. This study looked at nine 3-5 year olds to see if any emotional change happened when the play changed. The average score for free play was 3.46 vs the baseline 3.20 and the average score for teacher-directed play was 3.42 vs the baseline 3.20 out of 5. The research showed that four out of nine students performed better during teacher play. Anecdotal data supported the results by showing that the children were better able to concentrate and verbally share information about the different types of play.


Affiliation: Regional School Unit #1- Bath Regional Career and Technical Center