Structured vs. Unstructured Play

Remember when you were a kid and you had a ton of fun just making up games, playing sports with your friends, and doing cartwheels in the park? Remember when “play” was part of your daily life? As, adults, we can forget how much fun it is to play, in all its different forms. Thankfully, it’s fairly simple to re-introduce it back into our daily lives.

Firstly, there are two main types of play: structured and unstructured. Structured play is usually instructor lead, providing direction and a specific task (such as learning a new skill) to be accomplished. Think about taking a class, where each session has a purpose and a definitive goal. Unstructured play in comparison is more open-ended, creative, and doesn’t need a specific outcome to accomplish during a session. Open gym time, where equipment is provided but there is no set schedule of a game or activity to be played, is a great example. Both types of play allow for different levels of growth, skill development, problem-solving, and creativity, hence why play should be a lifelong pursuit, not just something we push kids to participate in.

So where to begin? If you are the type of person who likes learning new skills under guidance, want to build a solid foundation, and cement the basic, structured play is a great place to start! In Fernie, there are many different classes and courses to take taught by professionals that will ensure that you’ll walk away with the skills to succeed in your new passion, or continue in your development. Some noteworthy examples are CrossFit Fernie’s Elements course (“five one-on-one sessions to take you from your current level to CrossFit-ready”), discover yoga classes (held at both Essential Yoga Studio and Soar Studio), or personal training sessions with a kinesiologist (check out Sarah’s Active Rehabilitation for details). By ensuring you move well right from the start, you’ll be able to pursue your new activity with a decreased chance of injury, and an increased chance of fun!

If being creative, imaginative, or simply needing more flexibility to your play sounds more appealing to you, unstructured play is the way to go. When looking through the Fernie Fix weekly events calendar, pay special attention to any “open or drop in” sessions available, such as drop-in climbing at the College of the Rockies Fernie Campus, open roller skating at the Max Turyk Gym, and drop in gymnastics at the Elk Valley Gymnastics Club. Or simply bring the whole family down to public swim time at the Fernie Aquatics Center or public skating at the Fernie Memorial Arena, where you can choose to practice your skills or simply have fun jumping off the diving board and skating hand in hand. Again, the goal is to have fun playing, not to aim for perfection.

Whatever way you to choose to play, there are so many options out there! Try as many as you want and figure out which options work best for you and your lifestyle. And always remember, have fun!