As the current school curriculum involves children to be more active, out door forest schools aswell as indoor activities and after school clubs available 7 days a week we see children living lives as busy if not busier than an adults. It is becoming unclear at what point children become over scheduled to their developmental detriment or I’d emotional stress develops.
Free play is when a child is given or can chose for themselves what they are next going to play with, there is no adult interaction and the child can be left to explore their own world around them but still with adult supervision. Structured or scheduled play is more interactive with adults where the adults chose and guide the child play. The child is instucted and guided with new ideas, socila skills and more.
Research suggests that Child’s free play is seen to have more benefits than scheduled and structured activities. Providing a child with free play means that the child can explore important social, emotional and intellectual milestones.
By children living busy lives of extra curriculum activities, and having to many structured activities at a younger age can cause early stress, anxiety and in rare situations depression. A key benefit of free play is that during free play the child has a mental workout and forms executive control which is the ability to think twice, make quick and conscious decisions and think for their selves. As well as the basics of imagination, role play and creativity.
Research is rapidly influencing the schools systems of encouraging some structured and scheduled activities but much more free play, heuristic play and sensory play included in the free play so that the child can develop through exploring their own world rather than being forced into it.
However a benefit of structured play is that the child can have more experiences and will learn more new skills and the world around them can become bigger with the adult and the structure.
In the light of things having a balance of both structured and free play the child will benefit the most, by learning all sorts of skills, abilities and social benefits. the child can gain the best start in life.