One thing all childhood professionals will agree on is this: the value of play in a child’s life.
‘Play is an essential part of every child’s life and is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.’ PlayEngland
Both children and teens use play as a way of regulating emotion, growing in confidence and making sense of the world around them. With children across the world unable to play with even their closest friends right now, what effect will this have one their long term wellbeing?
First let’s look at why children need to play.
Children need to play with each other and interact closely with their peers for many reasons;
- To learn about physical boundaries,
- To grow their imagination,
- To work through how they see the world, and process their experiences.
- To laugh, have fun and be silly!
One lucky person got the job of being a professor of play, (what an amazing job!). He had this to say about the importance of play: “…. we do know that children being able to play freely is associated with better health outcomes and potentially lower stress,” Prof Paul Ramchandani for the Guardian
When advising parents on how to play with their children or homeschool during lockdown, he said “Watch what your child is doing and try to follow their lead, doing what interests them.”
He mentioned nothing of sitting for hours on end at a desk, quite the opposite. He went on to say “….responsive parenting is key to supporting young children’s learning and social and emotional development. Slow down and let the child complete the task themselves, however long it takes, because that is how they learn.”’ You can read the full article here.
As circus performers, creators and workshops leaders, we know the value of play. Both traditional and contemporary circus arts were born out of play. The reason children love our workshops so much, is that we basically guide them in new ways to play.
With schools beginning to re open, is this the break that children need – a chance to get back to playing with their peers?
with social distancing measures in place (good luck to the teachers who try to implement those!) will they still be starved of the much needed opportunities to interact through play with one another?
Professor of child psychology Helen Dodd, shares her strong advice for the government to prioritise play above most other things. “We ask that, once it is safe to do so, the loosening of lockdown is done in a way that allows children to play with their peers, without social distancing, as soon as possible. This may mean that close play is only permitted in pairs or small groups or within social bubbles that allow repeated mixing with a small number of contacts.” The Guardian
Where the welfare of children is concerned, it seems that being able to choose one or two friends to begin interacting with, would be a far better move for the wellbeing of our recently locked down children.
Is going back to school to then not be able to play with half the toys, or sit next to their best friend and have a giggle about a joke they heard on the playground, really what children need?
Many teenagers have already begun meeting in parks, and outdoor settings to get their much needed fix of connexion, but for little Jack who is 6 years old, and stuck at home without any siblings to play with – it’s incredibly difficult.
Schools in Denmark have been attempting social distancing at school, but even then the need for physical touch or close interactive play, isn’t met. We have recently spoken with a number of teachers who may be keen to get children back to school, but for those in EYFS and KS1 they worry what the lack of play will do to their wellbeing.
If you’re reading this wondering how to either enable at least some play from home (after 9 weeks, let’s face it – we are all running out of ideas!) or a teacher wanting some ideas to send home to students, Why not try out some garden based circus skills?
Roll up some socks into balls, and get practising – watch our director, Nikki show you how!
When our children and young people are allowed to play once more, will they have developed new ways to play from two a meter distance, and have adapted just fine?
Will the effects of its absence be tangible?
Time will tell.
If you would like to enquire about a circus workshop once restrictions are lifted, we would love to facilitate some brilliant opportunity for play for your children and young people.
Contact us here.