Why playtime matters

‘Play’ is an important aspect that should be at the heart of every child’s lives as it is a vital doorway of their wellbeing, learning and educational development. Playtime is a universal activity that takes many forms with which every culture engages in. During the early years, children go through several significant stages of learning and development which provide a healthy foundation for the rest of their lives.

We should never underestimate the value of ‘play’ as there are many advantages linked which develops the whole-child, such as, physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits. Children learn vital positive skills like, sharing, compromising, friendship, coping with frustration and how to follow guidance. It’s also known to improve memory skills, increase literacy skills, inspire an active imagination, concentration, resilience, communication, motivation and self-discipline. It teaches perseverance, happiness and replenishes negative feelings with positivity.

“It is a right of every child to engage in play.”

- The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights Tweet

Even from birth, babies begin to pick up the basics of interaction and socialisation. Parents can take a hands-on approach to help encourage an enjoyment in playing by interacting with their child; ensuring they have opportunities to explore a balanced variety of interests and be creative in a safe and secure environment.

In essence, child-centred ‘play’ (either structured or unstructured) is an excellent way of bonding, having fun, being expressive and learn about your child, as well as they can learn about themselves and the world around them – an essential aspect of parenting and a cherished part of childhood.

If you are looking for ways to engage your child through play time activities, visit our free online resources to help parents and careers create a great home learning environment. 

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The importance of child wellbeing

Children’s wellbeing is a fundamental part of their emotional, mental, social, physical, environmental and spiritual development. A healthy and balanced lifestyle during this early stage is imperative for their personal wellbeing, achieving and maintaining growth as well as a holistic approach to life. Providing opportunities to carefully support the explicit understanding of these basic human needs will help your child to appreciate how and why they are so significant in their life. These basics are:

Food and water
A balanced diet and nourishment stimulates physical and psychological development underpinning brain development.

Rest, sleep & play
A basic physiological need for the body to rejuvenate, repair, grow and is equally important as a balanced diet.

Social interaction and physical activity (in & outdoors)
This can increase life expectancy and decreases risk of cardiovascular disease. Produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits.

Clothing
Ensures bodily temperature is correctly regulated and an awareness of how to look after themselves.

Sunlight and fresh air
Some sun exposure is vital for Vitamin D to help absorb calcium for healthier and stronger bones. When regulated the benefits also include a decrease in hyperactivity and depression. Gives a greater appreciation for nature and wildlife.

Love and affection
Children feel good about themselves when they feel valued and know that someone is special to them and acknowledges their efforts, this promotes positive relationships, strength, a caring spirit and independence.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Intellectual stimulation
Giving opportunities to experience a rich language environment to express themselves, speak and listen, even stimulate curiosity about nature or the wider environment; provoking feelings of peace and awe, to be able to share their thoughts and explore / observe connections and sensitivities.

Attention and praise
Valuing and recognising uniqueness, creativity and individuality enriches self-worth, gives a sense of appreciation and opportunities to learn how to manage their feelings.

Shelter and security
for safeguarding and protection from danger, builds trust, relaxation and happiness to enjoy the world around them.

Health care and hygiene
Establishing day-to-day body care routines are critical for lifelong habits which need to be reinforced and practiced in early years to protect against infections, illness, germs and promotes personal standards, responsibility and self-esteem.

Consistency
Every child needs a high level of stability and routine which will promote confidence, structure and resilience towards challenges in life.

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Going together so we can go further

An African proverb: ‘if you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.’ Going together so we can go further sums up the past few months at the Institute of Wellbeing. We attended the launch of the Hungry Little Minds campaign at the DfE and were privileged to share our tailored campaign, key messages and visual resources designed to creatively engage with BME / Faith Communities at the Birmingham and London ‘Learn Explore Debate’ days hosted by NCB.

We also embarked on successful roadshows to engage with key stakeholders and been guests on three regional BBC Radio stations. We’ve had exciting conversations with key stakeholders and want to keep exploring the potential to collaborate for the greater good of the families we want to serve.

We are excited; we want to reach, positively influence and impact as many families as we can, and to see them flourish as a result of creating a healthy Home Learning Environment. This requires compassionate engagement that creates moments of connection and an environment of trust. As a result we are committed to keep asking ourselves, what do we see when we look at the families we engage with?

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Wellbeing

5 top tips to help you improve your wellbeing

Research indicates that the development of a child’s behaviour is strongly influenced by how well the family functions.

Even in times of hardship – positive behaviours can be adopted within the home to improve family wellbeing. Such as, preparing and eating healthily together is one example.

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5 top tips for storytime

Why should parents focus on reading with their child? Because parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices is a more powerful force than other family background variables, such as social class, family size and level of parental education.

Research shows that parents who introduce their babies to books give them a head start in school and an advantage over their peers throughout primary school.

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Listening with your eyes

Why should parents focus on communicating with their child? Because early speech and language skills are associated with success in developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills, both in childhood and later in life.

Research shows that poorer children heard approximately 600 words per hour; whilst working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, but interestingly, children from professional families heard 2,100 words per hour.

By the age of 3, a poorer child would have heard 30 million fewer words in their home environment than a child from a professional family.

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