The Importance of Play

Playing outside is not just about letting off steam. It is a vital part of childhood that helps children develop physical strength, coordination and balance. It can also provide opportunities for children to learn and develop:

  • Social skills - when they play with other children they learn to communicate, share, collaborate and empathise with others.
  • Imagination and creativity - outside play is often open-ended and children need to be creative about what and how games are played.
  • Thinking and problem solving skills - as children assess risks and tackle new challenges they learn about having a go, persistence and perseverance and the success those attributes can bring.
  • Sense of self - as they master new skills and play with other children they improve their competence and confidence in their own physical and social abilities. 
  • Sense of connection - to place, to peers and to their local community and environment.
  • Self-care skills - managing physical and social challenges helps children to learn about keeping themselves safe.

To support these broad learning outcomes, play spaces should include areas for active, free, quiet, social, imaginative, creative, exploratory and natural play. By inviting children to use their own initiative, explore possibilities and take chances we can provide them with opportunities to learn. Remember your own childhood - where was your favourite place to play?