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In today’s fast-paced world, where technology dominates a significant portion of children’s lives, the need for play has never been more crucial. Implementing programmes such as OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) in schools becomes essential as childhood has evolved, and many children are no longer fulfilling their play requirements outside of school.

The statistics paint a concerning picture – with children spending an average of 5 hours per day on screens and only 5 hours per week engaging in outdoor play. It’s no wonder that a significant percentage of UK children only have the opportunity to play outdoors with other children at school.

The benefits of the OPAL programme are extensive, ranging from increased enjoyment of school to a reduction in teaching time lost due to conflicts between children, fewer accidents, and enhanced behavioural outcomes. These advantages stem from the fundamental understanding that children learn through play.

Play is not merely a frivolous activity; it is the very mechanism through which children develop cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills. Whether it’s through setting up a pretend grocery store to enhance maths skills, balancing blocks to improve physical abilities, or creating menus for a pretend restaurant to boost literacy skills, play offers a rich learning environment.

Moreover, play is essential for promoting good health and combatting issues such as childhood obesity. It serves as a means for children to reduce stress, fostering emotional growth and providing an outlet for anxiety and tension.

While the intricacies of play may seem simple on the surface, various types of play exist, each contributing uniquely to children’s development. From symbolic play to games with rules, researchers delve into the multifaceted aspects of play, emphasising its significance in children’s overall well-being.

Den building – planning, designing, adapting and collaborating.

Parents play a crucial role in supporting their children’s learning through play by ensuring they have ample time for cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development. By integrating play and learning, children are empowered to explore, experiment, and consolidate their knowledge in a practical context.

Encouraging outdoor play further enriches children’s experiences, allowing them to create lasting memories and engage with nature. By trusting their playful instincts, parents can witness the immense capabilities children exhibit when given the freedom to play.

As a school we have focused on enhancing play opportunities through the OPAL programme, which supports changes in resource allocation and modifications to school grounds.  OPAL embracing messiness, challenges, and increased freedoms in play are essential for fostering children’s physical and mental well-being, aligning with current guidelines on health, safety, and development.

In conclusion, play is not mere ‘messing about’; it is the cornerstone of children’s learning and development. By nurturing play in educational settings, children are equipped with the skills, confidence, and creativity needed for success in all facets of life.

To learn more about the OPAL programme and explore additional resources, visit the OPAL website for insights and valuable information: Home – Outdoor Play And Learning.

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Pembury Primary School
Lower Green Road, Pembury, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 4EB
Phone: 01892 822 259 Email: office@pembury.kent.sch.uk