Free or Structured Play - A Balance of Both
While structured play helps to teach new skills to children, free play also helps to build independent management skills and creativity in the children.
Most schools allocate the Physical Education classes to teach structured sports, thereby helping the children to be competitive, build sportsmanship, group coordination, and leadership skills among the children. The games of basketball, handball, baseball, cricket, futsal is a part of the school timetable of the students. All these games are excellent opportunities to coach coordination, discipline, group management, and team leadership. At the same time, sports like swimming, gymnastics also help to build resilience and discipline and maybe liked by students who cannot cope with working in groups, especially the students who have difficulty in social skills. All these games are adult-supervised; hence, it is safe and well-structured.
However, there is a report cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which states that providing too much structured- play eliminates free child-centered play. It claims that the decrease in the time allotted for free play interferes with the development of creativity, imagination, and overall development of emotional, cognitive, and physical strength.
Additionally, the report states that too much structured-play adds to stress and anxiety as the student may fall behind the school schedules, and that adds to the stress of covering the academic loss. These students tend to be exhausted most of the time and often complain of headaches and stomach aches and feel tired frequently.
To conclude, outdoor play is considered a panacea for childhood obesity, mental health, and general welfare. At the same time, it is essential to let the children play freely to allow them to learn to engage socially and learn collaborative play skills independently.
Hence, a balanced time for a game of hide-n-seek and basketball in a student's play schedule will be a great learning experience for a student.