How is informal, old-fashioned free play different from organized after-school activities? Let Grow co-founder Peter Gray, a professor emeritus of psychology at Boston College and author of the book, “Free to Learn,” told The Journal of Play that:
Children learn many valuable life lessons in informal games that they don’t learn in organized sports. Contrast, for example, an informal pickup game of baseball with an adult-directed Little League game.
In the pickup game children learn that, to keep the game going, they have to keep the other players happy, because unhappy players will quit and go home. They learn how to negotiate rules and make compromises. They learn how to settle disputes, because there is no umpire to do it for them. And they learn that playing well and having fun really are more important than winning because, in the end, nobody cares who won.
In Little League the players may learn a lot about how to play baseball, but they learn much less about how to live happy, responsible, compassionate lives.