A new report has confirmed just how important play is for our children’s good health. The Play Return study, by the Children's Play Policy Forum, found that play helps to boost language development, problem solving, risk management and independent learning skills.
It also reported that playtime in the school playground could enhance academic skills and attitudes and behaviour. And it revealed that improved play and youth facilities in public spaces had led to reductions in levels of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
The report also found that families and communities benefited from new play initiatives. It was shown that “play projects” frequently boost volunteering support and a sense of community spirit.
The study author Tim Gill stated that more outdoor play is good for kids and communities. He said: "At the core of the report is the message that not only does outdoor play impact significantly on the lives of children and young people, it also, in many cases, can provide a basis for the transformation of wider communities.
"From the perspective of politicians and policy makers, the report highlights that investing in play can and does lead to multiple benefits including improved educational attainment, a healthier society and increased levels of tolerance within and between communities."
5 cheap ways to play more this summer
Parents might like to give their children more opportunities for play during the summer holidays. Here we suggest five great ways to enjoy more play time but without spending a fortune.
Go geocaching: A modern form of the treasure hunt that uses GPS co-ordinates to locate the treasure, or cache, geocaching turns an ordinary walk into a fun activity for children. There are geocaches hidden all over the UK and walks range from very short to epic hikes with all kinds of caches to discover. See www.geocaching.com
Build a den: Do you remember as a child building a den in the back garden or local woods. Sadly, for many families, this fun play activity has been replaced by the rise of ready-built modern playhouses and garden huts. Why not rediscover the fun of a DIY play den made from all kinds of materials, such as branches, broom poles, chairs, sheets and old cardboard boxes? See Build a Wild Den for more ideas.
Go wild camping: If the weather is fine you do not need all mod cons camping kit to enjoy a night under the stars. And you don't need to travel too far from home to find have a "wild" time. Camping out in your own back garden or at a friend's house could wild enough for many people. A tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bags as well as a throwaway barbecue and basic food will see you through. Do take warm outdoors clothes and waterproofs just in case the weather changes. Camping is a great way to enjoy outdoors time with the family doing something that feels adventurous.
Playground games: Remember when you spent evenings, weekends and school holidays playing skipping games, hopscotch, rounders, throw and catch or British bulldogs? So, why not get a group of friends together and enjoy a day of traditional playground games? The kids will discover the fun of your childhood times, while you can indulge in a little nostalgia!
Climb trees: From fallen trunks to large trees with numerous branches, tree climbing is a fun activity for kids. But not everyone knows how to approach this past-time. First you need to find a sturdy big tree and inspect it. Make sure it has strong, large branches that can support your weight – a solid 20 cm thickness of branch is a good size. The branches need to start low down and go all the way up the tree. Climb as high as you feel comfortable with and spend time looking for good holds for your feet and hands. Make sure you know how to get back down, too! Think of it like climbing at indoor climbing walls if you’ve tried that before.
Tell us about your play time activities.