Sunday, October 16, 2011


There is nothing more fundamental than playtime for children; hence schools generally set aside two sessions for playtime each day when youngsters come together informally. They have freedom to interact socially by playing games of their choice and by chatting with one another. A child who is denied access to communal play is deprived of opportunities for learning necessary skills that will equip him for adulthood. Through play a child learns how to communicate, how to react to situations, how to be creative and use his imagination. He learns to accept both success and failure. At the same time he develops verbal and numerical skills. Without play he is less likely to become emotionally secure and to have the tools for maturity, i.e., to become a person who is sensitively aware of the needs of others and one who is not overly assertive in attaining his desires; in short, an unselfish, caring adult.

There are times for organised and adult-led play, such as well-planned parties overseen by parents, or events at children’s play centres. The latter are increasingly popular, perhaps because purpose-built centres can offer more adventurous activities than can be staged in a child’s home. One obvious advantage from a parent’s point of view is that there is no mess to clean up after the party!

My wife and I recently took our three grandchildren to a play centre as guests to their friends’ (triplets) birthday party. Two sets of triplets and a dozen or so other children made for a lively and noisy affair. The venue was a factory unit on an industrial estate that had been converted into a well-planned activity play space with climbing frames, slides, a stage and areas set aside for party meals. Fast foods, tea and coffee were availbale at a refreshment area, from where parents were able to keep watch on their children as they played.

The party was well-managed by a professional leader who understood how to engage children in group activities and how to let them have fun at the same time. He was aware of their limitations and their needs. By offering a series of play tasks and by punctuating them with short periods of entertainment, he was able to sustain their interest. Towards the end of the party, all the children sat around a table for snacks. Before setting off home, each child was given a bag of goodies. Everyone was pleased, and there were lots of smiling faces. The whole venture had been a great success.

Text for the Day

Luke 18:16, 17 ‘But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” ‘

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