Recently our elementary principal, who has two children of his own, started having kids come to his house where he has set up a very nice cement slab and basketball hoop. The kids can play basketball (3 on 3) for about two hours. Parents are welcome to drop them off or stay, but if they stay, they cannot say anything to the kids. The idea is to let them call their own fouls as well as work out any conflicts themselves. It has been a great experience.
This has made me think of how many life lessons these kids get from playing what many people would consider just a game. The most obvious benefit to them is the physical activity. Prior to 1980, childhood obesity or juvenile diabetes was practically unheard of -very rare. That is no longer the case. It is great to see these kids red faced and sweaty after a couple of hours of hard playing. The other obvious lesson they are learning is problem solving or conflict resolution. Calling your own fouls, settling the disagreements of if the ball was out of bounds or a foul was committed all are skills that will help them later in life. All of us have to work and get along with others. Now is the time for them to learn this.
Another observation I made from watching, that may not stand out to many (perhaps because of my math background) is the academic component. They have to keep score, win by two as well as logically think if a two pointer will end the game or should they just go for one. The ages for both boys and girls range from 4th grade all the way up to Seniors. The older ones help the younger ones which gives some of those kids the opportunity to be a leader. Something they may never have experienced before.
With all of this, I am left with the final thought of what a shame many schools have or are considering cutting physical education. There is much more going on during so called play/games than you would think.