The power of play

At the Health Improvement Commission we agree with Play England’s take on play: "Play isn’t just for learning; play for its own sake is a child’s right and what they’re driven to do”.  

Through play, children develop physically and discover a range of emotional skills. In short, play is pivotal to a child’s development right from birth. It is especially important during difficult times such as lockdown.

A recent American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) report, emphasises just how important playing with both parents/carers and peers is for building thriving brains and bodies.  Physical activity, through play and other activities, is especially important for children’s physical health as well as their mental health and development. There is also some evidence that active children are more likely to keep active in adulthood. 

Play is central to developing children’s fine motor skills such as writing and grasping small objects and gross motor skills like walking, running, throwing and kicking. Through activities as varied as climbing trees, running, jumping, swimming, dancing and riding bikes, children will also develop stamina, flexibility, body awareness and social skills. 

Active outdoor play is essential for our children and young people to understand, value, enjoy and protect our natural world. So if possible, it's important to encourage children to play outdoors where there is space and opportunity for them to move more freely even when it’s wet and windy. 

Giving children plenty of opportunities to play is one of the best ways to help them grow into curious, creative, healthy, and happy adults equipped with the skills they need today. Next time your child asks to play with you, jump at the opportunity! Share the joy of discovery as you connect with each other and the world around you.

Here are some links to loads of active play ideas for parents/carers and children - which may be particularly helpful during lockdown!

35 indoor family games from Play Wales

GoNoodle - a resource used in local schools inspiring movement and mindfulness

Playful Families, practical ideas to support play in and around the home - part of Play Scotland's #101waystoplay campaign

Don't forget to check out our Be Active @ Home page for lots of ways to keep active.

The poem Just Playing by Anita Wadley, sum up the value of play beautifully. Here are a few extracts:

When you see me cooking or tasting foods, Please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is "just play.” 

I’m learning to follow directions and see differences. I may be a chef someday. 

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body, Please don’t say I’m “just playing.” 

For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning how my body works. I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.