Structure. It is a word that gets bounced around a bit and we rather avoid. It holds slightly negative connotations and is easily misinterpreted to imply something too strict, too regimented.
Structure versus organised
If we change the word 'structured' to 'organised' we get a clearer picture.
Children like a sense of order in the physical setting. This physical order is the key to how they can choose and carry out their own individual activities in a peaceful atmosphere.
They embrace the freedom to choose because they know where everything they need is, and where to return it upon completion. They know how to help themselves and be independent. They know that what they need is available to them.
This is so important as a child's drive to complete an activity diminish if they can’t find what they need. A puzzle with missing pieces will not hold the child’s interest for long.
Rhythm and rituals
It helps if your home and daily activities have a sense of organisation to it, but certainly does not fit the bill of 'structured'. The day is not broken up with endless transitions but has a rhythm of times alone and together and rituals to ease transitions, story time before bed, bath time before dinner.
Time in between is free for the child to use as they please, with the activities, and time frames all of their own choosing.
This provides security for the child. They know what to expect, and so rather than pouring their energies into coping with instability in their surroundings, they can use their energies to play, connect, and to live out possibilities.
In feeling emotionally safe, they can have the absolute freedom to be themselves. In short, everything but the child is organised.