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Let’s get serious about play

We typically keep things pretty light and breezy here. But give us a moment on our soapbox to discuss something near and dear to our hearts: play.

June 11 marked the first-ever International Day of Play, an annual event established by the United Nations. We celebrated all of June with daily #monthofplay ideas on Instagram and Facebook (on top of the play-based support we offer Pariva families every day). Click here for a trove of playful ideas.

The UN — bolstered by play champions such as our partner, The LEGO Foundation — now will regularly and publicly proclaim that play makes a better world. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child established play as a fundamental right of every child. 

What’s the big deal?

First, it’s not a given for every child. An estimated 160 million children worldwide are working instead of playing or learning.

But even in areas where children aren’t working, we tend to forget the magic of play. Fewer children regularly play outside today (an estimated one in four, compared with nearly three-quarters in their grandparents’ generation).

Here are some of the many compelling reasons to play:

  • Play is the brain’s favorite way to learn. It promotes engagement, motivation, and retention without kids even realizing they’re learning, and it can be a particularly beneficial learning strategy for neurodiverse children. 
  • Beyond education, play builds life skills. Play can help children learn resilience and empathy, form relationships, improve control, overcome trauma, and solve problems. They can develop physical, social, and emotional skills, as well as the ability to adapt to change. 
  • Play transcends national, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries, and it builds tolerance and inclusion. We all speak the language of play.
  • In the midst of crises, play can help children feel safe and process their experiences.
  • Play generates creativity and innovation.
  • Play is joyful. Playful interactions not only help children; they improve the well-being and mental health of parents and caregivers. 

In this world of ever-present screens, distractions, and busyness, help us make sure people don’t forget to play.

Prithvi Singh

Seasoned Technical Product Manager, focusing on product strategy, roadmap development, and data-driven decision-making. Hands-on experience in implementing and optimizing machine learning algorithms in various projects