December 19, 2023

Everyone needs to play

‘Everyone needs to play’ story was written by Pat Jewell, Program Manager, Parenting and Early Years Program at Australian Childhood Foundation.

It is well known that play is important for children.

Children, especially young children explore and experience the world through play. But what about adults who did not get the experience of playing as a child?

In an Early Learning Centre, parents and carers dropped their children off each day and picked them up each night.

Sometimes some of the parents stayed and had a play with their children. Sometimes it was the dads doing the drop-off and pick-up, but mostly it was the mums. Dads often said they would like to stay and play, but there was no time.

An evening was organised for the dads to bring their children and enjoy the play experience with them. We were surprised when a dad turned up without his twin girls. Where are your children, we asked?

“No way,” he said, “this is my time to play”.

Oblivious of the other dads with their children, he happily painted on an easel, drew, played in the sandpit, explored the play dough and clay, and listened to the story at the end of the session.

On his way out, he thanked us for letting him play. 

When he was a child, his country was at war, and the whole family was involved in scrounging for food and keeping safe. For him to be able to offer his children this “paradise of play” made him feel good inside and a bit jealous. This dad has since put aside time to come again and play, this time with his girls. He said playing makes him feel happy inside.

It is good to know it is never too late to play.

Resources for working with children and young people

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