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Children Play

Let children play this summer, instead of extra schooling, psychologists urge

March 5, 2021

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An appeal from child psychologists has stressed the importance of outdoor play and sports during holidays for children this summer.

The group, which includes expert child psychologists and education specialists, have stressed that using the summer holidays for summer school or ‘catch-up’ lessons will have a wide-ranging negative impact on emotional wellbeing.

In a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, PlayFirst UK has called for the government to prioritise emotional wellbeing as England’s lockdown eases.

For children who’ve spent much of their year in isolation and missed out on playing with friends, there is a danger of the ‘catch-up’ logic reducing the importance of play during the holidays.

The newly appointed Commissioner of Education Recovery Sir Kevan Collins has pointed to extra hours for sports and music being considered on the return to school.

The concern is that in a rush to recapture ground lost during lockdowns, the focus will be on the rigidity of academic targets rather than peer-to-peer development through free play.

In an interview with the BBC Sir Kevan made it clear that the transition from primary to secondary school, for example, meant that standards for reading and numeracy must be met. PlayFirstUK’s lead Professor Helen Dodd added that:
 

“If we do not get this right, we run the risk of pushing struggling children back into a pressured educational environment, which could cause further damage to their mental health and development.”

 
Find out more about the effect of self-directed and supported play here

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