The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article recently on what play is really all about, based on the books Free to Learn by Peter Gray, a Boston College research psychologist, and Lenore Skenazy, the author of book and blog Free Range Kids. You know, free range like chickens, I suppose.
Studies have found that children in the USA between ages 9-12 get less than an hour of free play each day, and that is mostly indoors.
This is atrocious and shameful. Let the children go! Let them play, else they will be stunted in their development. Arguably, that which a child learns through play is far more important than that which they learn in a classroom.