“We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up. A nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people; in their homes, nurseries, schools and communities.”
Yesterday the Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision was officially launched. This is the first part of the Play Strategy – the action part of it will be published in the autumn.
When you think of your own children, or perhaps children you teach or work with in some capacity, consider the opportunities they have in their daily lives for free play – particularly outdoors.
To begin with, do they have enough time in their lives to play? I don’t mean undertake football training, or sing in a choir or attend dance classes or any other structured activity. It’s about free play – time for a child to choose when, how, where and with whom they play. Is there time for free play for children who may have to help their parent with work or care for them in some way? How about children you know who have additional needs? What about young people studying for exams?
Do the children in your street feel able to play outside safely, in their local area? Are there suitable places for play? By this I don’t mean simply play parks but green space or well-designed, child friendly urban areas? Are teenagers welcomed or is their presence everywhere and anywhere frowned upon? Have you ever asked a child or young person you know what they think and how they feel about this?
What about the school and the quality of play provision? Do the routines around break and lunch time provide enough time for play? Do children get to play if they haven’t been behaving well or if they haven’t finished their classwork? Are the school grounds accessible all year round in all weathers and beyond the school day? Are they interesting, well-designed places to be with open-ended features and resources? Is play facilitated by staff who know, understand and support children’s right to play?
Ghandi is often quoted as saying “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This may be a fair point, but the first indicator has to be how a nation values and treats its children.
This play strategy matters. It is an acknowledgement that there needs to be more happening in our homes, schools and communities to ensure all children and young people of all ages have the right, the time, the space and the places to play.
- What do you think?
- What action do you want to see the Scottish Government take?
Let me know. There’s still time to have a say, make a difference. Tell me your thoughts – from within or beyond Scotland. I’m part of the play strategy working group putting together the forthcoming actions to support the vision statement. I’m genuinely interested to know.