Tories will ensure more playgrounds for children

Subject: Play matters

Regeneration of playgrounds is a beginning, but play is about far more than a visit to the playground. 

Play begins with mother-infant interaction in the first days and weeks of life. Play is about freedom to move and interaction with the environment both physical and social.   Baby equipment may be great as labour saving devices for parents but the best playgrounds of all for babies are those from which there is no commercial gain – mother’s body in the first weeks, and the floor, in the first months of life. From the floor a baby is free to move its arms, reach, stretch and support its body; to kick its legs and learn to hold its head up.  These are the first lessons in coordination and postural control.

Free movement in the early years is experienced as joy, and when there is joy, children learn.  Swings, slides and  roundabouts are great for providing stimulation to the balance mechanism, but the same thrill can be  derived from rough and tumble play with Dad, rolling down a grassy bank and playing roly poly or turning somersaults on the floor.  Children need the opportunity to play in any suitable environment and the process of play is the mother of imagination and invention.  We need not only formal playgrounds but free space to play, time for parents to play with their children and an understanding that more learning takes place during physical play than in the sedentary activities of watching TV or playing with computer games.

Children develop as a result of physical interaction with the environment and social engagement with the people around them on a daily basis.  Although the process of maturation is innate, the architecture of the developing brain is built as a result of experience. Children’s learning begins with their body and movement is a child’s first language. Non-verbal communication (body language) will be responsible for up 90% of effective communication for the remainder of life. Children need opportunity for physical play at every stage in life, not just to develop physically but also to develop imagination, communication and self-regulation.

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