Play is Important – Will the Government Listen?
Play is a fundamental part of childhood and vital for well-rounded development. That’s why it is so essential that the government recognises that play should be a priority, to promote a fit and healthy childhood for the children of this country.
This month a significant step has been taken to push the government towards embracing the importance of play, with the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group ‘Play’ report, which has been very well received by a cross section of experts. It is full of helpful recommendations for making family life more playful, and also encourages parents to resist the urge to over protect their children, which can restrict natural healthy development.
It’s really encouraging to see the report championing the balanced play diet as an understandable approach to guide parents in the importance of different types of play.
It was also good to see the emphasis the report puts on inclusive play, drawing attention to the need for longer term funding of inclusive play initiatives.
The benefits of outdoor play are well documented, and the report reviews the barriers to children playing outside and makes practical recommendations such as “ring fencing funding for play within local authority budgets”.
Rather than demonising screen time and tech-based play, the report recognises the need for teachers to receive training in the use of technology to promote playful learning.
We are delighted that the Play report encompasses suggestions across many aspects of society, with recommendations for the planning system, health, and economy. We’re very supportive of the recommendations to encourage childcare professionals to change from a risk assessment mentality to a benefit-risk assessment.
We also agree that there is an economic benefit both in terms of children growing up with more transferrable skills and therefore being more economically valuable to society, as well as in the reduction of costs to the health, education and justice system if children are given the opportunity to develop through play.
Interestingly for us at www.FundamentallyChildren.com, the report also highlight the need for “advice to be made available online and in appropriate settings…on criteria for selecting ‘tech toys’ and how to incorporate them constructively into children’s play”. Through our Good Toy Guide and Good App Guide we aim to do exactly that, and as we are independent we’re looking forward to talking to the government about how we can help them improve access to the free, independent, expert advice and information that we provide.
The key question now is how many of the recommendations in this report will be actioned and in what time scale. At Fundamentally Children we will not be sitting passively on the sideline waiting for the government or local authorities to move forward in this, we will be taking the lead on providing the independent advice and resources parents, teacher and childcare professionals need to promote playful childhoods, and we’re happy to work with anyone who shares our approach.
“Childhood lasts forever.”
Baroness Benjamin, Co-chair of the APPGTags: imaginative play, Outdoor Play, Play Advice
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer