National Children’s Day is a reminder of the much more fundamental importance of a healthy happy childhood and the need to protect the rights and freedoms of all children.
The Save Childhood campaign, the folks behind National Children’s Day in the UK are using this year to focus on the importance of well-being.
This is never more important than now. In the aftermath of the controversial launch of tough new assessments for primary school children – and the wider media coverage of the real impact this is having on our nation’s children – what better time to recognise that what children of all ages really need to protect their well-being and mental health, is simply time to play.
The evidence of the importance of play and the significant benefits play brings for children in learning how to deal with everyday situations is comprehensive and widely accepted around the world. Simple, undirected free play is a powerful tool to counteract the increasing pressures on our children.
Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Wales reminds us that ‘‘providing for children and young people’s play is one of the most important things we can do to improve their health and wellbeing’.
We know that children of all ages love to play, and that it gives them the chance to explore their world, interact with others, develop problem solving abilities, practice new skills and express and control emotions. When you were a child, did you prefer to sit still inside and learn all about possessive adjectives all day, or run around with your friends outside having fun? Whilst as parents we may not be able to control government policy or what happens in school, but we can provide plenty of opportunities to play to ensure our children still get a balance.
Depending on the age of your children, your role may just be to ensure that they have the time and space to play after school or over the weekend. If your children are still of an age where they want to play with you (and this ends all too quickly!) then there are so many things you can do together.
Children love to be “in charge” and letting them decide what game you’re playing together can have a big impact on their self-esteem and well-being. Don’t worry about focusing too much on what they’re “learning” – having fun together is the most important bit. Spring (perhaps?) is finally on its way, which always makes playing outside more appealing, so rather than sock-collecting in bedrooms, on National Children’s’ Day make time to go and play out as a family.
Every day at Eureka! is a fun-packed day out and on the 15 May we’ll be encouraging parents and children to get involved with family den building challenges, interactive story sessions and the construction of a cardboard city. There will also be the opportunity to visit our nursery and see how we promote playfulness and well-being there.
In addition to this we are holding a conference on Monday 16 May called Power to the Playful, exploring the link between play and well-being from a number of professional perspectives.