Play

Play

This section includes the following areas of the Resilience Framework:

Play and hobbies

Play and leisure

In 2019 the British Psychological Society published a position paper on “Children’s Right to Play” which explains why play is important to all aspects of children’s development. Many schools are developing as Rights Respecting Schools using principles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In 2013 the UNCRC defined play as “behaviour initiated, controlled and structured by children, as non-compulsory, driven by intrinsic motivation, not a means to an end and that it has key characteristics of fun, uncertainty, challenge, flexibility and non-productivity.” According to educational psychologists, “the importance of children being able to play without intrusive adult controls or structure has been recognised as an important factor in promoting lifelong attributes,  such as resilience and flexibility and the development and maintenance of children’s social relationships.” (Mannello, Casey & Atkinson, 2019).

Here, with some help from Michael Rosen, children explain why play is important:

Ideas for different types of Play

Rebecca has put together an information and ideas sheet for parents that considers the different types of play (free play, guided play, directed play, work disguised as play and work) with some examples for each aspect. Why not give your older children ‘permission’ to re-experience ideas they may have left behind? Download Rebecca's resource sheet here.

  • Den making – make a den using what you can find around the house. Chairs, blankets, rugs, blankets, cushions. Be prepared for the mess! Why not shine torches inside the dark den.
  • BBC Indoor activities for children - From making papier mache to playdough recipes.
  • The Dad Lab - If scientific experiments are your thing, follow The Dad Lab on Facebook: make your very own bubble wand using 3 items – a sock, washing up liquid and a plastic bottle. Let us know how you get on!

Virtual and Online Play

  • Play online games with your friends. Have a look at what is available on the app stores on your phones or go to gaming platforms such as Steam to browse multiplayer games. Steam has some free games, and there is currently a sale on a few Remote Play games, including classics such as Uno. You can also access virtual versions of board games. Hop into a call with a friend and load up your favourite game! Kast is a good screen capture app that could be used to share your gameplay.
  • Go on a virtual trip together. Museums, zoos, aquariums and more are offering livestreams and virtual tours. Personally, I’ve been enjoying watching jellyfish floating around! Some links are available here and there are plenty more to be found online. Again, use a video chat platform to make this a group trip.
  • Organise a film night with your friends using Netflix Party. You can watch a programme together and join a group chat to talk Netflix Party lets you synchronize Netflix watching across device/locations and adds chat feature between a group
  • The Guardian has produced a very helpful review of chat apps, ranked for the quarantine period.
  • DIY Science: anyone can be an engineer with Siemans -  quick and simple experiments that KS2 children could do simultaneously in their homes and watch how their friends are getting on at the same time/chat with each other.  The experiments look fun, but the videos do feel a bit ‘educational’ 
  •  The 30 day Lego challenge seems to be very popular.

Play for Teenagers

The ways in which teenagers play are often a source of concern or conflict within families and schools. The ways in which teenagers play include: hanging out; trying new things influenced by friends rather than family; risk taking; online activity including gaming.

The organisation Playful Childhoods has produced these ‘Top Tips to support your teenager’s play’ (webpage with translation function), also available to download as a PDF here.

Playful parenting

The charity Play Wales has a wonderful website about Playful Parenting with a number of ‘top tips’ guides to different aspects of play. Also available to download here

If you want to refresh your support for families during the holidays, this Home Play Pack from Play Scotland is another useful and well-produced resource.

Play in Crisis

For children and families who are still working through the anxiety and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic the International Play Association has produced a guide for families under the theme of Play in Crisis. Each page of the resource provides parents and carers with information and ideas, so they can support their child’s play. There are topics such as the importance of playing in crisis, and how to respond to children’s play needs, through to issues that parents may be concerned about, like children playing with difficult themes of loss, death and loneliness.

The resource can be downloaded here.

Play and mental health

Playing is central to children’s mental, social and emotional health and well-being. Through play, children develop resilience and flexibility, which contributes to physical and emotional well-being.

Play Wales have produced a simple and accessible information sheet that briefly explains the importance of playing for brain development and mental health. It also explores how playing contributes to children’s emotional well-being and how it relates to the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’.

The Psychology of Play

The COVID and Children’s Play report indicates that the benefits to children’s mental health and wellbeing of playing and learning outside together with others far outweigh the minimal risks to them and the adults around them. The British Psychological Society have produced research and information about play, some of which we featured in an earlier newsletter (#3:The importance of play). Recently, the same team have produced a short video for professionals expanding the psychology of play, available here:

This is a lovely version for parents with lots of illustrations of very simple play activities featuring children of all ages: