Monday, January 10, 2011

Structured Play or Free Play

With the devastating floods hitting Brisbane there has been little me and the kidlets can do but stay in doors at home.  I think everyone with kids is in the same position of having cabin fever, but as I said in my last post if that is our biggest worry, then we are doing just fine.  Our hearts go out to those families who have lost lives, houses, cars and all personal possessions in this natural disaster - I am sure that they would love to be sitting in a nice dry house with a little cabin fever.

But after 3 weeks of rain we are running out of things to do (kid wise, I on the other hand have a million things that need doing).  Last night I happened to catch a documentary about the Structured Play vrs Free Play for children. I must admit I was watching this in between comforting my 4 year old who was experiencing night terrors so I could be better informed then I am, however I found it very interesting.  Basically this study indicated that too much Structured Play was detrimental and children need Free Play in order to learn how to interact socially and take considered risks.  It did reveal that children that engage in Structured Play regularly are more likely to achieve in the workforce, however like anything, too much of something is not great.

I thought that most of it was common sense - the old Balance of Life was what I got out of it.  Some structured play is important, some free play was important.  The thing I did find odd about the documentary is that they were basically reporting that if we let our kids have "free play" they will be in danger of predators, meaning that free play equaled no adult supervision.  This I don't agree with, as I think children can still experience free play whilst having a parent watch and monitor them from the sidelines. It is a fact of life these days that the days of jumping on your bike in the morning and return for lunch after exploring everywhere are long gone.  We have had to adapt to the dangers of the world, but I think I spend half my life watching my children play happily in the park, or even at home without my interference and I do see that as important.

I guess whatever path we choose as parents will be wrong to some people and right to others.  The best we can do is following our heart and do what is right for OUR family.


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