Friday 24 May 2013

Make Time 2 Play Campaign

As soon as I heard about the British Toy and Hobby Association’s Make Time 2 Play Campaign, I thought it sounded right up our street. I think making time to play with your kids is of the utmost importance and something that is often undervalued. Think back to your own childhood memories - what springs to mind? For me, it's splashing in a paddling pool in the garden, playing Bulldog (before it was banned !) on the green outside our house, making Fuzzy Felt scenes, putting on Barbie fashion shows and potato printing, to name but a few. I remember much more about the fun I had playing than about particular lessons at school, programmes I watched on TV or other day-to-day stuffed that doesn't instantly spring to mind. If I think back to fond memories of quality time spent with my family, it didn't involve expensive toys or big days out - those special moments that counted the most were the ones when we just sat at the table together or got down on the floor and just played together.

As a busy working parent, it's easy to say you haven't got time or you're too tired to play when the kids ask but it really does only take a few minutes to create lasting memories with the kids. Help them throw together a makeshift den by putting a blanket over two chairs, make up stories together or play a quick game of Snap or noughts and crosses. It doesn't really matter what you do - the important thing is taking a few minutes out of your day to just be there and interact with your child, without one eye on the TV/ipad/laptop/mobile phone.

Experts from the government and OFSTED have highlighted the educational benefits of playtime too. They say that children learn best through simple playtime which enhances problem-solving skills, attention span, social development and creativity. This is something I have discovered in the classroom too. Trying to teach kids to ask for directions is much more fun (and memorable) if you tie it in with a game of directing a blindfolded pupil around the class and back to his seat. That's just one example though - there are millions of others.

The experts also say : "The mistake that many people make is to believe that because you don’t always know what the child is going to learn through play, they’re not learning anything. Even the most frivolous activity is beneficial for children as it helps them understand themselves better – learning what makes you happy and what makes you laugh helps children cope with challenges and acts as a buffer against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. When it comes to play, what’s most important are the social skills children learn. Relationships are the bedrock of society and children who play develop mutually rewarding relationships, learn to compromise, communicate and negotiate, all of which give them much better outlooks for future careers and mental health."

The key message of the campaign is to remember that play is vital to a child’s healthy development and not just something to be done as a reward or an afterthought.

Make Time 2 Play aims to give parents FREE play ideas that can be easily slotted into busy schedules. As well as the website, they have a FREE app which you can download to your phone so that you have a free play idea for every day of the year whilst on the go.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm not very good at making time for craft play because of the mess!


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