During this COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget the play needs of children.
Play is a fundamental necessity for children. It underpins their cognitive, social, physical, emotional and spiritual development. Play becomes even more important during times of crisis. Children (especially young children) do not have the emotional maturity to process everything that may be going on around them: anxiety in the household, a heightened focus on not losing schooling hours, uncertainty regarding the pandemic and how it will affect them, social distancing, isolation, and the list goes on.
Children use play as a safe space where they can explore their emotions and learn to understand that various situations can make them feel differently. Through their self-directed play children learn to make sense of and process environmental anxiety. This helps them nurture their self-confidence and build resilience which will serve them well in the future.
Without the opportunity to play, children are deprived of their natural coping mechanism. There have been studies on play deprivation that conclude that no play is devastating for children. So in these uncertain times, it is imperative that we recognize the child’s need (and right) to play. It is the best defense they have against anxiety and depression during this pandemic.
With schools closed in some jurisdictions across the country in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, parents and caregivers are perhaps feeling the pressure to ensure that their children do not fall behind too much in their schooling. PLAYLearnThink would like to support parents and caregivers who may feel overwhelmed or anxious about taking on the role of schooling their children. Please be reassured that self-directed play and exploration are fundamental to learning and the global well-being of your child(ren). So even if you feel uncertain on how to follow the guidance of the formal schooling system we encourage parents to continue playing with their child(ren) and to continue providing play opportunities in their home for their child(ren). By doing this, you are providing your child(ren) with a sound foundation for future learning. To help parents understand the many benefits of play and to support them in providing play opportunities for their children, PLAYLearnThink would like to share a resource it developed for families attending PLAYLearnThink Adventure PlayDays which provides information about play and examples of ways to support play at home. As parents go through the booklet, it is important to point out that the outdoor social activities may not be possible where you live during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to follow the guidance of health professionals in your area in order to control the spread of the corona virus and its variants. Please click on your language below to view/download the pdf. Do not hesitate to connect with us via our contact page if you have any questions or concerns. Click here if you would like to know more about hosting an Adventure PlayDay during the pandemic.
For parents and caregivers of young children, you may be missing the circle time songs at your daycare or family centre. My partner Susa has been recording videos to support her EarlyON families. You can find these classics here.
In collaboration with the CEPEO and IDÉLLO, PLAYLearnThink facilitated a webinar on the importance of play, exploring risk and loose parts play which aired on May 21, 2020. You can see the webinar here. The webinar is in French. If you would like a copy of the presentation with active links to resources, please ask us via the contact menu tab above.
As a board member of the Canadian branch of the International Play Association, I would also like to share a statement that my colleagues and I prepared regarding play in the time of COVID-19. You can view the statement here. We also have some tips and resources for parents here.
Best wishes during these challenging times.