United Nations International Day of Play

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Learning through play at Wild About Play Nursery and Preschool in Putney - Celebrating International Day Of Play Header


United Nations signals the importance of Play by adopting International Day of Play

Play Makes A Better World

3 Reasons why we are excited about this


1) Children believe adults don’t take play seriously and this awareness day puts in motion energy to redress this :

Global research surveying more than 25,000 children across 36 countries reveals that as many as 73% of children don’t believe adults take play and how it can help them learn seriously. In fact research also indicates that only 30% of adults are aware that play is a fundamental birthright adopted by the United Nations in 1989. There is now an existential need to put play back on the agenda for the health and wellbeing of our children supporting the next generations in all.

This international awareness day encouraged by Global partners such as the Lego Group, Lego Foundation, ADEA, Arup, Change X and then invoked by the United Nations looks to address the need for this awareness and ensure that it is at the forefront of all our minds at a local, parental, educator levels. Play is a fundamental human right and we must do everything we can to encourage it as the primary means of learning during the early and formative years of childhood. Later on as children move to secondary school play must continue to support all learning, collaboration and self regulation. Play operates as the “ safer space” where children can experiment in the big wide world testing relationships and situations.

2) Play is never just play:

Play is never just play – infact as Jean Piagiet (famous Swiss Psychologist and founder of the famous cognitive development theory around young children’s development) stated “Play is child’s serious work”. Play is never just play. It is always hopeful, powerful and transcending across different social groups and cultures. It is a universal language that must be encouraged as it stimulates curiosity and development of life skills and that are central to children’s and society’s progress. Homo Sapiens brain development is built on evolution through play and social connections. Limiting play or worse depriving play limits brain development and slows down the progression of our species to the extent that we risk becoming “robotised” beings living in silos with only specialist skills as opposed to the much revered generalist skills needed for the economies of our future.

3) Play is on a rapid decrease globally :

PLAY is on a rapid decrease globally as more children work instead of play and as more children watch phones / technology instead of just play.. UNICEF estimates that 160 million children around the world are working instead of just playing.

Jonathan Haidt author of “ The Anxious Generation” reports that children’s outdoor play and socialization has decreased significantly since the introduction of smart phones in 2010. Supervised activities have increased while unsupervised activities have decreased.

Children need to spend time away unseen and away from the direct focus of an adult (but still in a safe and managed environment) – essential for confidence and for healthy brain development. A study by the Guardian on 20 April 2021 found that many UK children were not allowed to play outside until two years older than their parents’ generation. The lead author describes that first children are not getting opportunities to assess and manage risk independently. Second, if children are getting less time to play in the outdoors in an adventurous way then this will have an impact on their mental health and overall wellbeing.

This International Day of Awareness on Play changes the dial and marks this form of development as SERIOUS and something we must all stand up and take note of and most importantly schedule our lives around.

For more support on how we encourage unstructured play at Wild about Play please contact us here to speak to our team who will be happy to support you. We would also be happy to explain how  Wild about Play delivers community, connected, hybrid and outdoor education for those interested.


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