Ahead of the game: Why play is the key to children’s future success
Play is an excellent way to help children’s brains grow and develop important cognitive skills.
Children benefit best from experiencing both structured and unstructured (free) play as each has benefits that complement each other and contribute to children’s development in different ways. Unfortunately, many aspects of modern society make it difficult for children to play, such as limited access to safe outdoor spaces, high living costs that put pressure on parents, and societal expectations for children to participate in adult-directed activities.
In this brief we discuss the manifold benefits of play for children’s development and the measures needed to protect children’s ability to play. These include family/whānau support such as paid parental leave, mental health support, and affordable housing; prioritising play in school and early childcare curricula; and policies that preserve play opportunities in densely populated areas and invest in community initiatives that promote play.