Play is often considered as something that is just for fun, a way to spend free time.

However, it’s important that we are aware that play (in particular outdoor unstructured play) is in fact fundamental to the health and well-being of children and adults. Play keeps us fit and healthy, it develops our strength and endurance, and it teaches us how to problem solve, take risks and overcome challenges. It also teaches us how to communicate and socialise effectively with others, while building our independence, confidence and self-esteem. Play promotes creativity and imagination, and it gives children the opportunity to practice what they are learning which is essential for healthy brain development.

The simplest ways to encourage play include:

•• Stopping at the park on the way home.
•• Minimising the structured activities you have each week.
•• Getting outdoors in nature as much as possible.
•• Refraining from ‘entertaining’ the kids and instead encouraging them to be creative.

Take some time to play with your children and challenge yourself to refrain from talking and directing play, instead let the child lead you.

1. Original Lock Activity Box by Mamagenius – RRP $99.00 – www.playmackay.com.au
2. Balance Bike Blue Chalkboard by Kinderfeets – RRP $150.00 – www.playmackay.com.au
3. Monster Feet – RRP $12.95
4. Jump Rope by Green Toys – RRP $25.00
5. Petanque Bowls by Janod – RRP $45.00
6. Happy Hopperz Pink Cow Small – RRP $59.00 – www.playmackay.com.au