Make play a priority for your family

Play is a vital part of a child’s learning and development – yet while most parents make sure their children go to school to learn and develop, few prioritise play in the same way. These days, almost a third of UK parents don’t let their children play enough because of safety worries, and also because they don’t recognise that a lack of play can have serious effects on a child’s long-term development.

A new survey by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) and Play England has found that 66 per cent of parents would like more time to spend playing with their children, citing work, a busy schedule and feeling too tired as the three main reasons that prevent them from playing.

It’s a trend which the BTHA and Play England wants to stop, and they’ve launched a new campaign, Make Time to Play, to try to encourage parents to prioritise play.

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The campaign is supported by TV presenter and Dancing On Ice star Jeff Brazier, a single dad to two young sons, whose mother was the late reality TV star Jade Goody. Brazier says he plays with his sons, Bobby, seven, and Freddy, six, for about an hour a day before bed. “Making it part of their routine means that I can make sure it happens and doesn’t get forgotten, and also that the children instinctively know that after homework is playtime,” he explains.

The survey showed that 44 per cent of families are at their happiest when they’re playing together, with 89 per cent of parents saying they noticed negative behaviour if their children didn’t get the chance to play during the day.

For ideas for positive play, visit www.facebook.com/maketimetoplay.