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It’s true: play is an essential part of every child’s life. Not only is it vital for the enjoyment of childhood, but it also has a huge impact on social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.

How do we define what ‘play’ actually means?

The bottom line is: children are at play when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons. Another way you could look at it is that it’s what children do when they’re not being told what to do by adults!

Why is play important?

Well, first of all – let’s take it back to the source! If you were to ask children themselves what they think is important in their lives, playing and their friends are usually top of the list.

Having time and space to play gives children the opportunity to meet and socialize with their friends, keep physically active and enjoy the freedom to choose what they want to do.

What are the benefits?

Research shows that play is highly beneficial, not only for children, but for their families and the wider community as well, improving health and quality of life. Recent research suggests that access to good play provision for children can:

  • increase their self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect
  • improve and maintain their physical and mental health
  • give them the opportunity to mix with other children
  • allow them to increase their confidence through developing new skills
  • promote their imagination, independence and creativity
  • offer opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds to play together
  • provide opportunities for developing social skills and learning
  • build resilience through risk taking and challenge, problem solving and dealing with new and novel situations
  • provide opportunities to learn about their environment and the wider community.

Evidence also outlines the wider benefits of play for families and communities, suggesting that:

  • parents can feel more secure knowing that their children are happy, safe and enjoying themselves
  • families benefit from healthier, happier children
  • buildings and facilities used by play services are frequently seen as a focal point for communities
  • it offers opportunities for social interaction for the wider community and supports the development of a greater sense of community spirit
  • public outside spaces have an important role in the everyday lives of children and young people, especially as a place for meeting friends
  • parks and other green spaces are popular with adults taking young children out to play and for older kids and young people to spend time together.

We believe that every child has the right to play. Don’t you? If you would like to improve the play provisions in your community, connect with us here.