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Is Free Play Important?
Date: September 09 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning

Our society has changed so much that children often don't get the same opportunities to play outside in groups, playing games with their own rules and their own ways. They don't have adult supervision that helps break up fights, tells the children to play nice and fair.

In free play,  children have to figure this out on their own. What if you're playing hide and seek and one of the kids cheats? What do you do? What if the kid with the ball wants to leave because he doesn't feel he's getting enough respect? What if one half the group wants to play British Bulldog, but the other half wants to play Red Rover?

Today children do get to play, but most often, they play in organized sports, in parks under the watchful eye of a parent or babysitter, or in constantly supervised environments, such as recess - if they're lucky enough to have recess. Fights on the playground are mediated by playground monitors. Disagreements during organized sports are directed and solved with the help of coaches and referees. Of course, this keeps things safe and civil, but having someone intervene all the time may not make it so easy for children to learn how to cope when things aren’t going their way.

What do you think?

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