What is Play?
The Welsh Assembly Government (Play Policy 2002) believes that:
- play is the elemental learning process by which humankind has developed. Children exhibit a behavioural imperative and instinctive desire to play. It has contributed significantly to the evolutionary and developmental survival of our species. Children use play in the natural environment to learn of the world they inhabit with others. It is the very process of learning and growth, and as such all that is learnt through it is of benefit to the child.
- play encompasses childrens behaviour which is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. It is performed for no external goal or reward, and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development – not only for individual children, but also for the society in which they live.
- play is so critically important to all children in the development of their physical, social, mental, emotional and creative skills that society should seek every opportunity to support it and create an environment that fosters it. Decision making at all levels of government should include a consideration of the impact of those decisions, on children’s opportunities to play.
- play is first and foremost the process of a child’s own, self-directed learning and as such is a process that has a validity for all ages of children. It is a such a vital component of a child’s life that the child’s capacity for positive development will be inhibited or constrained if denied free access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities.
- It is the very freedom and child centredness of play that makes it such an effective and comprehensive learning process.