Reporting on children and play is becoming more of a thing. First and foremost, this is wonderful for kids. It means greater public prominence given to play related issues and successes. News publications, broadcasters and online media sources are reporting on the needs, trends, shortfalls and benefits of play. Here’s a dozen stories from the past year selected from Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, UK and USA.
Thanks to the journalists who are helping to shine a light on all the work that is left to be done and for lending a voice that informs parents, policy makers, planners, educators and others who make critical decisions that impact children’s play.
The Guardian – By mollycoddling our children, we’re fuelling mental illness in teenagers. By Jonathan Haidt and Pamela Paresky – January 2019.
“…free play in which kids work out their own rules of engagement, take small risks, and learn to master small dangers (such as having a snowball fight) turns out to be crucial for the development of adult social and even physical competence.”
CBC – The Current Anna Maria Tremonti with guests Paul McKay, Mariana Brussoni, Tracy Vaillalncourt. Why experts say schools shouldn’t shy away from a little physicality during recess – February 2019.
“Educators have been reimagining recess lately from introducing more of it to inviting a bit more recklessness into it. In Quebec, a handful of schools are introducing sanctioned roughhousing zones on snowy school yards. It’s a spot where the kids can get a bit my hands on.”
The Guardian – Too poor to play: children in social housing blocked from communal playground. By Harriet Grant – March 2019.
“Dinah Bornat, an architect and expert on child-friendly design who advises planners, local authorities and the mayor of London, called the development “segregation” and said she has raised it with senior planners at the Greater London Authority.”
The London Free Press – School board’s safety crackdown triggers playground ‘play-in’ protest. By Heather Rivers – April 2019.
“Recently, there have been a lot of safety rules that are unfair — like not being allowed to pick up snow with your hands or feet. Now, we’re not allowed to play on the climber anymore,” said Julie Ryan’s daughter, Lily, 14.
The New York Times – Making Playgrounds a Little More Dangerous. By Richard Schiffman – May 2019.
“The Yard, for kids 6 through 13, lacks the usual monkey bars, slides and swings. It is, however, well-stocked with dismembered store mannequins, wooden packing crates, tires, mattresses, an old piano and assorted other detritus of the modern world.”
The Irish Times – What happens when you ask children to design their own playground? By Sara Keating – June 2019
“Ask a child about their perfect playground and their answers may surprise you. Swings and roundabouts and slides are not as important as freedom: to experiment, take risks, become invisible, invent the landscape as they move through it.”
The Globe and Mail – Designing for fun – How to make a better playground. By Alex Bozikovic – July 2019.
“Play is an essential part of children’s psychological development and so is risk. Learning to assess risk and to get back up when we fall is part of growing up”
The Toronto Star – Reclaim the streets for play. By the Editorial Board – August 2019.
“But with street play, kids activity isn’t curtailed by the hours available at the arena or on the soccer field. They simply step outside their homes and play for as long as they want with kids in their own neighbourhood.”
Fatherly – Eat, Play, Love: The Science of Play and its Impact on Childhood Development. By Virginia Pelley. September 2019.
“Parents should want kids to play. A lot. But before they can start encouraging play behaviors, they need to understand what they are. What does play look like? It starts with eye contact — we’re talking weeks out of the womb — and catalyzes quickly from there.”
ABC News – Letting kids play with discarded objects is great for their bodies and minds, and not as risky as you might think. By Dr. Shirley Wyver – October 2019.
“Teachers are often concerned they will be seen as neglecting their duty of care if they allow children to take risks, so they restrict play that they know is beneficial for children.”
BBC News – ‘Global epidemic’ of childhood inactivity. By James Gallagher – November 2019.
“The World Health Organization says children’s health is being damaged as well as their brain development and social skills. It says failing to take the recommended hour a day of exercise is a universal problem in rich and poor countries.”
BBC Scotland – The children learning to love being outdoors. By David Alliston – December 2019
“The philosophy of getting pre-school children out and about and playing in the mud and rain is fairly common in Scandinavia and Germany – and it is catching on in Scotland.”
If you have a favourite media story on play that you would like to share, please post it here as a comment.