The benefits of play

Freedom to play

Time for play

Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child

Children’s right to play is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 31 recognises: “the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”

What is play

  • Play is self-chosen and self-directed.
  • Play is intrinsically motivated—means are more valued than ends.
  • Play is guided by mental rules, but the rules leave room for creativity.
  • Play is imaginative.

What are the benefits of play

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182

 

Physical: unstructured play gets children moving and improves coordination, motor skills and balance; building muscle and bone density

Emotional: children experience anticipation and frustration and learn to self-regulate through play. Building self-confidence and esteem; experimenting with various emotions; and releasing emotions from trauma are three aspects of emotional development achieved through play.

 

Social: unstructured play gives children the opportunity to create their own games and make the rules; honing their skills in negotiation, making compromises, conflict resolution, promoting inclusion, team working and tact, among others.

Cognitive: play allows children to test and experiment, learn through trial and error and are free to make mistakes free of judgement or serious consequence. Imagination, understanding, predicting, remembering, communicating are all part of

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.
VISIT OUR PLAY MAP

Children have the right and need to play. Every child in London should be free to play safely, near to where they live. London Play works to raise awareness among decision makers, influencers, parents and teachers about balancing risk against the vast benefits of play.

But parents and carers are fearful of allowing their children to play out unsupervised:

Traffic: this is the biggie and with good reason. Children are prevented from playing in their street; but also from walking to the park to play because of fears about their ability to negotiate busy roads.

‘Stranger danger’:  is also a major parental concern, despite  abductions of children by strangers being thankfully relatively rare (you are about as likely to get struck by lightning). However fears around antisocial and criminal behaviour are real in many neighbourhoods.

Taken together, these have resulted in children’s right to roam being eroded radically over recent generations. Parents in England are some of the most reluctant in Europe to let their children play out. Children in London are less likely to visit a park or greenspace without an adult  than anywhere else in the country – despite the fact that 44 per cent of Londoners live within a five minute walk of a local park. One in 15 children do not visit their local green space at all.

 

Since 2008 London Play has pioneered the return of play to the streets of London – supporting residents to transform their streets into temporary, traffic free playgrounds on a regular basis. We also work hard to change the perception of streets through initiatives such as Car Free Day and Play Quarters.

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.
VISIT OUR PLAY MAP

Children have the right and need to play. London Play works to raise awareness among decision makers, influencers, parents and teachers about the vital importance of unstructured play to children’s health and happiness.

But children today spend half the time playing outside that their parents did:

The lure of screens: the amount of time children spend in front of screens has more than doubled over the past 25 years, to more than six hours a day. Some 41 per cent of children agree that screen time has affected their time for play.

Academic pressure: Children in the UK start school earlier than in most other countries in Europe, usually at the age of four. Pressure to perform academically starts immediately, with baseline assessments in maths and English given in the first six weeks; and continues from there.  The government’s coronavirus recovery rhetoric has been centred on academic ‘catchup’. School playtime is also under threat.

Less unstructured free time: out of school and outside the home, children’s time is increasingly focused on structured, supervised activities.

 

London Play strives to communicate the importance of giving time for play the same priority as time for sleep, school and extra-curricular enrichment activities.

 

FIND A PLACE TO PLAY

Click here to go to our play map and find adventure playgrounds, play streets and all our other favourite places to play in London.
VISIT OUR PLAY MAP