By Jasmine Stephens, Family Editor
Play is essential for children’s development. It sounds obvious when you put it like that, but opportunities for kids to play are being lost all the time by everything from cuts to local services such as Children’s Centres and playgrounds, to a more risk-averse society, to an increase in traffic, to the change in the socially-accepted level of parental supervision.
You simply cannot have a fulfilling childhood without play. A child cannot achieve their potential as a human being without the opportunity to explore the world and develop their personality through play. Play enables kids to develop their self-confidence, to learn behavioural skills, to practice communicating in social situations and it teaches them tools and techniques essential for when they enter the adult world. It is critical for their physical health and their emotional well-being and as well as an opportunity to learn, it’s a chance to relax, be creative and have fun.
When we talk about play, we need to think beyond those organised groups, soft play centres and singing lessons you can pay to join. It’s about having time for your children – both to engage with their play or to step back and supervise if appropriate. It’s about getting outside and playing like our grandparents did; up trees, in streams, in muddy puddles. With skipping ropes, sticks, stones and buckets of water. It means imaginative play, role play, dressing up and making a mess with paint or glue. It’s about letting your child lead the way.
Playday, the national day for play, is traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August and is now in its 28th year. As well as being a celebration of children’s right to play, it is also an opportunity to raise awareness of issues affecting children’s play. This year’s Playday campaign theme is play more…and it calls on everyone to make sure children and young people have enough time, freedom and space to play more.
Playday 2015 will be taking place on Wednesday 5th August and events are being held all over the UK. From street parties to local festivals to woodland gatherings to public events at community venues, there’s something for everyone. If you would like to get involved or organise an event, you can find help and advice on everything from fundraising to publicity at www.playday.org.uk