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.
When children are asked about what they think is important in their lives, playing and friends is usually at the top of the list.
How do we define what 'playing' actually means?
Our Charter for Children's Play describes play as: 'what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way, and for their own reasons.'
Play has also frequently been described as 'what children and young people do when they are not being told what to do by adults'.
Having time and space to play gives children the opportunity to meet and socialise with their friends, keeps them physically active, and gives the freedom to choose what they want to do.
Research shows that play has many benefits for children, families and the wider community, as well as improving health and quality of life. Recent research suggests that children's access to good play provision can:
Evidence is also available that outlines wider benefits of play provision for families and communities, suggesting that:
Children's right to play
The right to play and informal recreation, for all children and young people up to 18 years of age, is enshrined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK government in 1991. The government has a duty under this convention to protect and promote play opportunities for all children and young people.
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