At the National Association of Physical Literacy (NAPL), we agree with the Aspen Institute’s Sport and Society Project Play position that we must “dedicate time to casual play within the formal commitments that already have been made by leading organizations to promote daily physical activity.”
In today’s world, children live in an increasingly structured and “electronic” situations. It’s important as educators and coaches that we don’t add to the freneticism that kids experience by structuring our practices and play situations in such a way that they feel increasingly like work and like classroom situations. Incorporating free play allows for children to develop the confidence, desire and explorative nature that are so key to Physical Literacy.
NAPL believes that every child should not only play for 60 minutes a day (as recommended by the CDC), but as many of those 60 minutes as possible should happen as free play. If as adults, when we look back on our favorite memories of ourselves at play, they ultimately are moments of free play – we should use that as motivation to provide today’s generation the same opportunity to be creative and problem solve through the joy of free play.
Free play is fun play. Structured play is too often considered “work” or “practice”. Creativity, confidence, desire and an explorative nature are developed in free play experiences. Those who are serious about developing physical literacy see that free play experiences are not just “loose” periods of training, but perhaps paramount to youth development.