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The Benefits of Organized Games and Free Play

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Miss Melissa De Los Santos

Playing is an essential part of life, especially for children. The act of playing is not just to kill time; in fact, it has a lot of benefits for the growing child. There are two types of play: organized games and free play.

Organized play

Organized games and sports reflect the society we live in. Everybody has roles they must fulfill and rules to follow in order for the game to run smoothly. For children, playing is a way to “fit in”. Organized games help children:

  1. learn how to function in a structured environment. Let’s face it, we live in a world governed by official rules and conventions. They understand that there are certain consequences for specific actions, and they have to follow these if they want to be asked to play again.

  2. do something they might not ordinarily do on their own. It is hard for children (even adults, for that matter) to go out of their comfort zones. But once it’s a shared activity among their peers, it will automatically turn into a doable – even enjoyable – task.

  3. develop their leadership skills. Once children are comfortable in the structured environment, they start feeling more able to direct others who might not be as comfortable as they are.

Free play

Free play encourages creativity and innovation with its boundless possibilities. Since free play can either be individual or group, they learn to adjust or create rules accordingly. Free play helps:

  1. develop their imagination. What can four children do with boxes and popsicle sticks? Start a rock band, of course!

  2. create their own structured environment. With free play, children will recognize the need for rules and regulations themselves. They can make their activities as structured or as loose as they see fit.

  3. identify and showcase their talents. A child who is good at sports may set up an obstacle course, while another one who can sing can stage a concert. They can be who they want to be and “try out” roles and characters.

An important overall benefit of playing is the improvement of social skills. A good teammate is able to communicate well and ultimately get along with others. Just think of playing as future leaders’ training!

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