The importance of play to the health and wellbeing of children was highlighted last week by the publication of the Scottish Government’s Play Strategy. Following on from a number of initiatives aimed at improving the lives and life chances of Scotland’s children, the Play Strategy sets out a commitment to promoting play in a number of settings, from the family home to the community.

Research has shown that children who have the opportunity play outside and are exposed to a level of risk are healthier, happier, more resilient and more confident.  The strategy encourages a risk-benefit approach to playing outside – a move away from the culture of risk aversion and the inflated sense of danger that can often lead to children being kept inside, with little freedom to grow and develop as individuals.

Local spaces must be well designed and improve the opportunity for play, with consideration of traffic-calming measures, well lit walkways and sheltering and gathering spaces for children and young people.The strategy encourages parents to provide play and learning opportunities in and around the home that don’t cost much money, but acknowledges that some families might find that more difficult than others and may need support to do this.

‘The experiences children have in early life – and the environments in which they have them – shape their developing brain architecture and strongly affect whether they grow up to be healthy, productive members of society’ (Harvard University, 2007).

Source: Scottish Government