Should We Encourage Structured or Free Play for Kids?

Should We Encourage Structured or Free Play for Kids?

  1.  Human, Should We Encourage Structured or Free Play for Kids?

Kids learn through playing, there’s no denying it. With our busy lives, fitting in playtime with our kids is a struggle sometimes. Not wanting to ‘waste’ the opportunity, we want to provide the best play experiences we can. So, does that mean we should encourage structured or free play for kids?


Structured Verses Free Play for Kids


Let’s look at the differences between structured and unstructured free play:


  • Structured Play – this is when as adults we plan what activities our kids are going to do. This is common at kindergartens and day care centres where teachers want a specific learning goal to be achieved. An adult is responsible for helping kids perform this activity, showing them how it works.


  • Unstructured or Free Play – this type of play lets the kids themselves choose what they want to play. It is unplanned and while adults can be involved, they do not direct the children in their play.


Both types of play are important for our children’s development. There is no right or wrong way to play. Rather the type and kind of play depends on the developmental stage of the child.

  1.  Person, Should We Encourage Structured or Free Play for Kids?

Benefits of Structured Play for Kids


Our children can learn many wonderful things through joining in with structured play. Some of the benefits include:


  • Working with a team
  • Learning how to manage emotions and improve social skills
  • Develop bonds with others they play with
  • Learn about rules and boundaries


Structured play can include activities such as card games, board games, block building or playing musical instruments.


Benefits of Free Play for Kids


The advantages of letting our kids choose their own play are:


  • Building conflict resolution skills
  • Helps build their imagination,
  • Increased creativity and decision-making skills
  • Encourages risk taking


Free play includes activities such as choosing from dress-up clothes to put on a play, exploring in the garden with gardening tools, or exploring with a range of art and craft supplies.


How Can Parents Encourage Kids to Play More?

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