Playtime schedule for kids: Structured Play vs Free Play

By August 5, 2019 Gamification, Parenthood
It is rightly said that play is our brain’s favourite way of learning. Nowadays, indoor games have taken precedence over outdoor sports, with children playing games on their smartphones or watching videos for hours at one go. This has reduced the amount of time they spend outdoors where they can pick up skills from other kids their age. By setting aside time for structured play and free play, you’ll be instilling them with a sense of curiosity and fostering them with traits that encourage purposeful learning.
All parents understand that play is central to their children’s physical, cognitive, sensory, social, and emotional development. The question is, what is the right way to implement a playtime schedule, and how much time should you devote to it? Should you focus on structured play or free play? The key here is balance. Instead of choosing structured play over free play or vice-versa, parents should focus on planning out their children’s playtime schedule in a way that it involves a little bit of both. Here are a few ways that you can ensure a balanced playtime for your children.
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Image Source: unsplash.com (Kelly Sikkema)

1. Getting creative with arts and crafts

With art being an unstructured activity and crafts, a structured one, it is a good idea for parents to include both of these in their children’s playtime. Let kids learn how to reuse everyday materials and scraps from their home and create crafts. Save cardboard boxes and straws, have your children’s craft cartoon characters out of them or use a peanut butter jar to make a pencil stand for their study table. Hand them some crayons and paints, let their creativity flow on paper.

2. Jigsaws puzzles and Legos

We’ve all played with Legos, building blocks, and jigsaw puzzles, no matter what age. Let your kids make a tower, a robot or an aeroplane with Legos, so they can construct different structures and designs. While building blocks allow children to create anything from imagination, jigsaw puzzles are structured. Have them start with jigsaw puzzles that are easy to solve and then progress to more difficult ones. Doing this will help them hone critical problem-solving skills and strategic thinking.

3. Outdoor activities

It’s just as crucial for children to take part in sports as it is for them to study. There are plenty of things for kids to do outdoors, like ride bicycles, play in the playground or learn swimming. Allow your children to pick a sport they are interested in, which will teach them how to recognise patterns and meet a pre-established goal efficiently. You can even let them invent different games where they can chase the other kids around the park, giving them plenty of opportunities to make friends.

If you are confused about how you should manage your children’s playtime, consider their strengths and weaknesses. If you want to help them build social skills and develop executive function skills, giving them a bit of extra time for unstructured play will help. If you want to ensure your children are goal-oriented, an additional 20-minutes of structured play will do wonders. Make playtime fun and engaging with SKIDOS games by subscribing to and downloading them at https://subscribe.skidos.com/

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