2 August 2017
Today is Play Day, the national day for play in the UK. Play Day is a ‘celebration of children’s right to play, and a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives’. Play Day is coordinated by the charities Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland, and PlayBoard Northern Ireland, who work with local organisers to plan and arrange free play activities in local communities.
What started out in 1987 as a handful of activities for children organized by play workers in inner London has become the biggest play sector event in the UK with hundreds of large and small scale events taking place on the day across the UK.
Play is an effective – and fun – way to boost children’s learning. As many of us already know, a home environment that supports learning and play can support a child’s development. But between providing for and looking after their children, it can be difficult for parents to find time, resources and space to provide a rich home learning environment. This is a concern that parents often express to our Parent Champions – parent volunteers who give a few hours a week to talk to other parents about the local services available to families.
Over the last decade, many parents have been supported to learn about the benefits of formal childcare and to take it up by our Parent Champions. But Parent Champions also do a lot of work to support parents with their child’s learning at home. Parent Champions have helped parents to realise how easy and rewarding home learning can be. It can also be a powerful way to prevent children from falling behind before they even start school and to narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.
Home learning takes advantage of everyday activities and turns them into learning opportunities. It’s free, it doesn’t require any equipment, it can take place anywhere and it can be fun. For example, hanging up some laundry can be an opportunity to practice naming colours. A trip to the shop can be an opportunity to practice counting. And, whether you play together at home today or find a local Play Day event to take part in, a quick game can be an opportunity to practice taking turns and keeping score.
In the last three months, Parent Champions spoke to over 350 parents about home learning activities. And many Parent Champions today will be encouraging families to make time for play. Thanks to the free Play Day events taking place across the country, thousands of parents will be finding it easier to support their children’s home learning today and to have a great time while at it.
You can find out where your nearest Play Day event is being held or put together your own ‘Play Day’ event here.
Learn more about the Parent Champions programme.