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Title: Effects of an unstructured free play and mindfulness intervention on wellbeing in kindergarten students
Authors: Lee, RLT
Lane, SJ
Tang, ACY
Leung, C 
Louie, LHT
Browne, G
Chan, SWC
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2020
Source: International journal of environmental research and public health, 1 Aug. 2020, v. 17, no. 15, 5382, p. 1-15
Abstract: Play is known as the core occupation of young children as it lays a foundation for their early development and physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Literature suggests that unstructured free play and mindfulness interventions may independently promote wellbeing among preschoolers. However, there is no clear evidence of their combination in supporting wellness in early learning environments. We conducted a quasi-experimental study with 42 children aged four to six years, attending two kindergartens in Hong Kong. The intervention included unstructured play with non-directional loose parts (play materials), conducted outdoors for one hour daily followed by a mindfulness intervention for 10 min per day indoors. The intervention lasted for five consecutive days. We examined happiness and aspects of playfulness before and after the intervention, finding a significant increase in all areas. Given greater freedom in play choice, children showed more disruptive behaviors during unstructured play than the control group engaging in recess as usual. We conclude that unstructured play in addition to mindfulness intervention is effective in promoting students' happiness and playfulness, both of which may help maintain mental health and wellbeing amid stressors such as transition and separation. The increased disruptive behavior requires additional investigation.
Keywords: Preschool
Unstructured play
Loose parts play
Social and emotional wellbeing
Publisher: Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI)
Journal: International journal of environmental research and public health 
ISSN: 1661-7827
EISSN: 1660-4601
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17155382
Rights: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
The following publication Lee, R.L.T.; Lane, S.J.; Tang, A.C.Y.; Leung, C.; Louie, L.H.T.; Browne, G.; Chan, S.W.C. Effects of an Unstructured Free Play and Mindfulness Intervention on Wellbeing in Kindergarten Students. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 5382 is available at
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