Recently Sport New Zealand took a stand and outlined their 7 Principles of Play. Unfortunately many Kiwi kids aren’t having the same playful upbringing enjoyed by previous generations. As with many other nations, there are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • The rise of technology and screen time
  • We have less time than ever before
  • We are more aware of health and safety concerns for children
  • The spaces in which we can promote play are changing
  • As adults, we are less aware of our ability and role as play enablers.

A magnitude of research highlights to the importance that play has to a child’s development. Play teaches our children to interact with the world around them, builds new competencies and resiliency for later in life and has benefits towards building an understanding of sport and injury prevention as well as fundamental movement skills.

Play is important; so how can you do your part to promote play?

Let us define play. It is natural, spontaneous and will happen anywhere with little to no adult involvement. Play has no pre-determined outcomes and is self-directed providing fun, challenge and interaction. It could be simple or complex. It could go on for hours or be a 15-minute burst of creativity and energy.

The take out is that play will happen if we let it happen.

What we should do is:

  • Include ourselves in our child’s play – play presents the opportunity to strength the bond that you have with your child by going an adventure of exploration together
  • Not direct play – as we said play is natural and spontaneous. We shouldn’t try direct play but let our child make decisions for themselves. Quality play experience involves limited adult input
  • Not discourage all risk and challenge within play – we are not saying put your child in harm’s way, but risk and challenge teaches our children to problem solve and build competencies that will help them in latter life
  • Promote play that encourages physical activity.

The Good Sports Spine

Have a look at our Good Sports Spine, a tool we’ve created to help adults in children’s sport understand how they impact a child’s sporting experience and ultimately help adults help kids fall in love with sport for life.