The opportunities for children to play freely – particularly outdoors – have been significantly reduced in recent times.
Adults are one of the main barriers to children playing freely.
It’s not safe, it’s too expensive, I’m too busy – are just some of the excuses we use.
Given that playing brings a whole host of benefits, it’s really important that as adults we make time for play.
Here are some tips on how to facilitate play:
Keep worries in perspective – while a child’s safety is paramount, an adult’s fears shouldn’t inhibit your child from playing outdoors.
Prioritise time for play – playing is equally important as important as structured activities to a child’s development. So alongside lessons, homework or football practise, set aside some time to play each day
Limit screen time – while it’s all too easy to give your child an ipad or put them in front of the TV, nothing will benefit your child more than some quality time to play outdoors
Think cheap and cheerful – Playing doesn’t need to be expensive. Your children don’t need the latest toys to have fun and remember playing outdoors is free. There are plenty of low cost or no cost ideas, from playing with balloons, climbing trees and making dens to chalking and making gloop. See our ideas below
Get some loose parts - While children can and will play anywhere and with almost anything, there are resources we can provide that can facilitate and encourage play. These needn’t be expensive, in fact some of the most effective resources for play are ‘loose parts’. Examples include, sand, water, shells, fabric, buckets, boxes, rope, tyres, bottles, wood and scrap.
Get outdoors as often as you can - When children are asked most say they want to play outside as they value the independence and opportunities for discovery that it offers. Children’s play spaces can be more than just playgrounds. Find a safe space for your child to play and sit back and let them thrive.
Listen to your child and get involved - Sometimes children will directly ask us to play, sometimes it’s more subtle. Sometimes they just need us to act as a resource! Asking, listening and getting involved is often all that’s required.