Active play 

Find out how playing can help all aspects of a child's development and improve their health.

Also watch a video on supporting your child's play

Transcript of Active play

Active play is any kind of play that involves physical activity,

so it can be outdoor play

but it can also be the kind of play that kids enjoy doing at home,

so active play is anything that gets motor activity going in children

and gets the heart racing.

Play is a way of them learning about their environment and about themselves,

and I think particularly for young children,

and here I'm talking about children aged three, four and five,

it's an essential part of their learning.

It's where their emotional learning, their physical learning,

their development of language,

their spatial awareness, their development of what their senses are

really all comes together.

Their having fun is much, much more important.

They learn from just touching things

or they interact with each other

and they learn more words

by speaking to other children as well.

In active play children will have an opportunity to practise

playing with other children successfully,

taking turns, learning to win and lose,

learning to be creative

and learning a whole range of skills and other sensory experiences,

being messy outside, not having to worry about those types of things.

For parents, one of the worries is the fact that there's a lot of mess,

but actually submerging their hands in the paints

and submerging their body in the sand and getting messy

teaches them a lot of skills that they would otherwise not learn about.

There's a lot you can do in terms of active play with children indoors.

Children love bouncing on the bed,

children love pushing soft balls around the room,

things that are quite safe.

Rough and tumble play is absolutely vital.

It's allowing children to be physical without thinking they're being naughty.

Your outside learning is as equally valid as your inside learning.

I think a role that nurseries and all early school provision has

is providing, even for those children who may not have the right environment,

a really exciting play environment.

They just learn by interacting with one another

and using the resources that we have.

So whether it be water, sand pit,

those that haven't been to the beach get to touch and feel the sand,

feel what it's like, the texture, how it makes you feel on your hands.

(Dr Ferdenzi) Children need the parents to join in to value what they're doing.

For a portion of each day

parents need to put the iron down or stop reading the paper

or stop doing some work and actually play with their children.

I feel adults have an important role in setting up the environment,

perhaps deepening an environment sometimes, enriching the language,

but at other times just stepping back

and letting the children really explore those questions

and try out their own understanding of the world.

That's really what play's about.

Although we set up all the equipment for them,

we can be too much in their face and impose our games on them.

It's important they use their imagination to develop their own games.

They'll do that with each other. That's socialising as well.

Very typically parents are worried about safety,

but the reality is that children are as safe as they used to be

and the risks of negative things

happening to children when they play outside

are far less than the risks

of negative things happening if they don't play outside.

Obesity, poor socialisation with other children,

having less fun, becoming depressed,

those are the real risks.

It's very important that children can take risks and do risk-taking things

because that's when they learn how to make themselves safe

and how to hold on tight and correct themselves.

Really fabulous play can actually happen in any situation. It's the imagination.

But their imagination won't develop

if there's an adult there all the time saying,

"This is my imagination" and imposing it on the situation.

Let the child's imagination come out.

Active play is very important to children

but it's not something that parents need to get stressed about,

it's something that can very easily be built into day-to-day life.

There's a lot of pressure on parents these days

to be perfect cooks, to have perfect households.

This isn't what your child will remember from childhood.

Your child will remember whether they have fun with you.

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