Some schools have eliminated play time during school hours. Unstructured play time is considered a waste of time that would better be spent on academics. Other schools offer only "socialized recess", where children are required to take part in structured, monitored activities. But a too rigid structure deprives children of a chance to learn to mix with other children. Free time and unstructured play are vital for the intellectual and emotional growth of children, as well as providing them with opportunity to learn negotiation and cooperation skills with their peers. Children who do not have adequate unstructured play time tend to be less fit, have fewer social skills, and, in the end, be less successful in academic subjects, than are their playing peers.
Schools are faced with increasing pressure from both parents and governments to improve the academic performance of their students and to implement an increasingly complex and extensive curriculum. The growing number of lawsuits against schools for children injured on the school playground, a real concern about the intentions of adults lurking at the edges of playgrounds, and a shortage of teachers and volunteers willing to supervise unstructured play activities contribute to the reluctance of schools to let children out of the relative safety of the classroom.
Many school districts in the USA have eliminated play time during school hours. In 1993 a school was built in Atlanta, USA, with no playground. In some schools, children have classes from 8 a.m. until 2.30 p.m., with only a half hour break for lunch, during which they must remain at their desks and not talk.