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The Importance of Structured and Unstructured Play In Your Child's Development

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For a child, play is an integral part of how they learn, discover the world, and understand how their bodies work. Here is why you and your child's school must encourage them to play, and the benefits of different types of play.

Playtime is more than just a chance for your child to have fun. Playtime for children is a critical aspect of their social, cognitive, and physical development. Many studies have shown that both structured and unstructured activities are important for your child to grow to be the best that they can be. Some benefits to both structured and unstructured amusement include:

  • Boosted creativity
  • Improved social skills
  • Increased self-confidence
  • A better understanding of their physical capabilities

Making time for your child to play is a task for both parents and the education system alike. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of playtime and how our Calgary Montessori school encourages proper play periods for our students.

Grey Matter Montessori Prioritizes the Needs of Each Individual Child

At our NW Calgary Montessori school, we ensure that each student is treated as an individual with tailored learning plans for all. Through our scientifically proven Montessori method, our students grow to have heightened characteristics, including confidence, creativity, independence, and critical thinking skills.

Want to learn more about how the Montessori method can improve the educational and personal progress of your child?


The Importance of Play

For a child to develop all aspects of themselves, they need to be free to play. While many parents see play as a nuisance and detrimental to their benefit, the truth is quite the opposite. Children need to play for them to improve themselves and refine their abilities. Playtime is an important aspect of Montessori education and comes with many quantifiable benefits for your youngster. At our NW Calgary preschool, we ensure the social, cognitive, and practical growth of all of our students, and both structured and unstructured play are important aspects of this.


Different Types of Play

Play can be broken down into two separate types, each with its own developmental benefits. Structured play tends to focus on more goal-specific exercises and develops cognitive thinking and logic skills in your child. On the other hand, unstructured play is much more mentally freeing for the child and allows them to explore their horizons and develop their creative side.


This is what we tend to typically think of when we think of children playing. This type of free play just tends to happen whenever, wherever, and however the child chooses. Examples of this include:

  • Artistic and musical games and exploration
  • Imaginary games, friends, and scenarios
  • Exploration of favourite spaces such as playgrounds, areas of the house, and more

While this type of play may just seem random and unproductive, it actually has many different, incredibly valuable benefits such as:

  • Heightened imagination: Without any rules to follow, your child gets to expand the horizons of their mind and develop their own worlds that are governed by their own guidelines.
  • Problem-solving development: In an unstructured environment, there are no structured solutions, meaning that your child needs to sometimes think outside the box and work with their friends to develop creative solutions.
  • Social skills: Unstructured play encourages children to play and interact with one another in whatever way they see fit. Through these interactions, children learn the importance of teamwork, sharing, and listening to one another, all key elements to a healthy social life.


Structured play is a little different, but that doesn't mean it has to be less fun. Structured play tends to be more organized, direct, and with a set of rules to follow. Typically, there is a goal to complete where the child is required to use logic and critical thinking to complete. Some examples of structure play include:

  • Organized sports such as hockey, soccer, and swimming
  • Activities such as dance, drama, and music classes
  • At home board games, card games, or directed activities such as a paint night

This is typically the type of play that parents associate with positive development in their child. Through structured play, your child will develop:

  • Pattern recognition: Having a strong understanding of direct patterns and more indirect, sociological patterns has been linked to substantial cognitive development in the minds of youth.
  • Determination and confidence: With a set, predetermined goal like those in structured play activities, your child will learn the value of determination and goal completion.
  • Cooperation and teamwork: Depending on the activity, your child may be required to work with their team to reach an objective. For many structured play activities, such as team sports, cooperation is a required element to complete the goal.

Balance is Key

In truth, one form of play is not superior to the other. Both structured and unstructured play is critical for the growth and wellbeing of a child. When you are making time in the day for your children to play, make sure you include both types of playtime so that they can grow both the creative and logical sides of themselves and become a well-rounded individual.


Our NW Calgary Montessori School Understands The Importance of Play in the Development of Your Child

At Grey Matter Montessori, an NW Calgary based preschool, our program has been specifically designed so that your child can grow into the best version of themselves. Our curriculum and teachers focus on the holistic development of your child, including social skills, creative skills, and practical skills, while ensuring that each child in the class has material and lessons tailored to them.

If you want to learn more about the Montessori method of education and how our NW Calgary preschool makes a real, genuine difference, call us at 587-707-4739 or by filling in our online contact form below!

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