Play In The Early Years – What The World Health Organisation Recommends.

Here at Billy Bounce HQ, we talk about play a lot. If we’re being honest, we probably talk about it too much.

When it comes to the importance of play we’re obsessed, all consumed and despite our best intentions we keep bringing it up in conversations. Which can be a bit awkward when all you’re doing is paying for the big shop at the supermarket…

But, at least we are not alone in believing play is vital to children, because if you ask anyone who works in childcare or education, the chances are they will tell you that play is essential.

Play recommendations by World Health Organisation

“Why Is Play So Important?” I Hear You Ask

Play helps children to understand the world around them. It is through play they can recreate situations and experiences, exploring different responses. It’s long been documented that children develop their social skills through making friends, falling out and finding resolutions.

Play can also help children to build resilience and develop healthy emotional responses to situations, as well as helping them to develop their cognitive skills such as problem-solving that they will use throughout their life.

That is why we so happy to hear that the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) is acknowledging and supporting play in early years.

So What Has W.H.O actually said?

In short, W.H.O has found that in order to grow up healthy children need to “sit less and play more.”

Though it must be noted that exceptions should be made for things like reading and playing puzzles with caregivers. However, the general conclusion is to reduce low quality sedentary time and instead increase time spent actively playing.

Expert’s hope that by encouraging play in Early Years, children will grow up to be more active throughout their teenage and adult lives. This will help to reduce the risk of obesity and associated diseases. Currently, 5 million people die each year (across all age groups) because of a failure to meet current physical activity recommendations.

Play can be an easy way to get under-fives active as first and foremost most children are naturally inclined to play when they can, with whatever they can. W.H.O believe that young children should be spending less time sitting and watching screens and more time engaging in active play. This echoes calls made by the API, of which our parent company is a member.

W.H.O recommends that:

  • Infants (less than 1 year) should be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways. Particularly through interactive floor-based play – more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake.
  • Children 1-2 Years old should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day. Again more is better.
  • Children, 3-4 years of age should spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day. Just as with the other recommendations they note that more is better.

So, what should we do?

Nurseries and childcare centres can easily act on these recommendations by encouraging children to play throughout the day. We’re fairly sure the children won’t need that much encouragement!

If you need structure try scheduling in activities and games that will get people active, and if you need more room, consider your outdoor space.