The Benefits of Indoor Play
Indoor playcentres are recognised by the Government and Parents as cornerstone to children’s social and physical development and mental health and are critical in getting children pre-school ready. Indoor play is a stepping stone in socialisation prior to a child entering structured education.
As an industry we welcome 60 million children annually whether it be for baby sensory, free play, role play, parent and me time, pre-school music, fitness, language and art classes or birthday celebrations.
In addition we provides support with the mental health of Parents and Children. We are an essential venue for Parent or Carer-child time and many centres act as a community hub for activities.
Indoor Play and COVID
The Child Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, warns that children will be living with the legacy of the pandemic for "years to come", particularly those from disadvantaged communities, and wants to see a major investment in support for children.
Indoor play is a very cost-effective way to enable children to experience physical play as well as mental stimulation. The least well off in society and those with challenges in life are the ones that suffer the most. Opening up indoor play venues would benefit a part of society that is suffering the most.
Sunil Bhopal, an expert in child health at Newcastle University, says too many people dismiss the impact on children, claiming they are "resilient" and will "bounce back". He believes this is misguided and instead growing up in a world where even "playing with your friends is illegal" threatens to cause long-lasting damage to many youngsters. "I don't think it is an exaggeration to say children and their families have been abandoned."
Why indoor play?
Play is stealth fitness – ‘exercise in disguise’. It’s about children ‘getting fit, without knowing it’. Play must be recognised as the primary form of exercise for children – we don’t take them to gyms, we take them to play, and healthy kids generally equate to healthy adults, thereby reducing the cost of care to the NHS in future. Children benefit so much from indoor play and we are the part of the solution to the issues we are seeing as a result of the pandemic.
We are not just a place to “let off steam” - play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.
Play England state the benefits of play as follows
“Research shows that play has many benefits for children, families and the wider community, as well as improving health and quality of life”.
Recent research suggests that children’s access to good play provision can:
- increase their self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-respect
- improve and maintain their physical and mental health
- give them the opportunity to mix with other children
- allow them to increase their confidence through developing new skills
- promote their imagination, independence and creativity
- offer opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds to play together
- provide opportunities for developing social skills and learning
- build resilience through risk taking and challenge, problem solving, and dealing with new and novel situations
- provide opportunities to learn about their environment and the wider community.