Every child has the right to play.
Did you know that this is enshrined under article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Yet, look around. In my experience, you’d be hard-pressed to find much evidence of this in our schools. It seems to me that more effort is directed to limiting or eliminating children’s playtime these days, in favour of cramming more lessons into their day, rather than protecting it.
But there is one significant exception – Wales. It is the only country in the world to legislate and protect a child’s right to play.
A whole article was dedicated to this topic recently in the Guardian by journalist Aditya Chakrabortty – click here to view the whole piece. In it, Aditya argues for making play a legally protected right for all children and backing that commitment with cash to support a wide variety of play services.
Play is Vital
As Dr Stuart Brown, President of the National Institute for Play, says “Play is as vital to the development of a human being as sleep and nutrition.” Indeed, more and more research is being published now to show the presence of a state called ‘play deficit’ or ‘play deprivation’ – a condition which has been shown to hold a very strong correlation among incarcerated youth and adults.
Further, it is reported that the opposite of play is not work – it is depression.
In a world that often views play as wasteful, unproductive or childish, it’s high time our lawmakers were informed about the real science and benefits of play.
What do you think?
And, more importantly, how can we heighten the importance of play to the development of our young people?