The UNCRC is an international treaty that establishes universally accepted and acknowledged rights for children. It acts as a benchmark against which a specific nation’s treatment and mentality of its children can be measured. The treaty brings together in one specific code, all the rights, the benefits, the protection of children otherwise scattered in different agreements, including the 1959 adaptation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Beazley, Bessell, Ennew, & Waterson, 2009). In 1989, this convention was approved officially and now has been ratified by each and every leading country in the globe apart from two. The convention states that, state parties should recognize every children’s right to rest and to leisure, to engage in play and all recreational activities which are appropriate to the age and ensure that they can participate in all the cultural arts and life. It also indicates that the state parties should respect and promote every right of the child, to participate fully in the artistic and cultural life and should encourage the provision of adequate and proper opportunities for artistic, cultural, leisure and recreational activities (Gelb, 2013).
The question comes down to, why “play” is given so much importance, that a separate article had to be dedicated in the UNCRC. Naturally, the seemingly innocent and prevalent phenomenon which every child engages in, has far reaching mental and physical implications which are incredibly beneficial for the all round development of children, for which, such importance has been assigned to the act of “playing” (Brooker & Woodhead, 2013). Babies and infants learn about themselves through playing and about the world they live in through the interactions in play with their very early caregivers. The young children develop social and physical skills through sharing and inventing games with siblings and peers. Pretend play is a type of play, in which perspective reversal, role rehearsals, joint planning, self regulation is promoted by children. Active play is another type of play, which requires adult guidance and support and children get introduced to ideas about literary and language, physical world and mathematics, and this type of play helps them develop thinking skills.
Playing helps in creating a supportive environment for children, where the children can ask free questions, solve issues which they face and engage in critical thinking (Davey & Lundy, 2011).
An example can be stated of my very own childhood when it comes to the importance of play; I grew up with my cousin brothers and sisters and used to learn our mothers prepare our lunch and dinner. It was a very favourite play of ours was to recreate the ‘cooking’ through using grasses, stones and mud. We used mud, to shape gas and ovens, then treat grasses and leaves as the vegetables and stones used to act as plates. It is a simple example, but this showed how we used imagination, creativity, problem-solving and in the process learnt a lot about actual process of cooking. Though it is a very simple example but it helped me later on realize how important it is for us adults to let children freely play and experiment as per their minds desire.
Play enhances the children’s very desire to gain knowledge and learn (Brooker & Edwards, 2010). Often playing leads to immense knowledge sharing and gain, which traditional systems of knowledge (in classrooms) often cannot bring about. Playing is important as this activity is not bound by any set rules, and children can expand their very own thinking and improves their positive disposition towards knowledge gain and learning. The very immersion of the children in their play defines how the activity of play helps them to just enjoy their existence of being (Brooker, 2010).
Traditional viewpoints have linked playing to education and development, and considered playing as an action of eliminating labour, and focused on the therapeutic value which playing has in crisis situations (Lester & Russell, 2010).
It is of crucial importance to protect the right to play, and enact in early childhood care and education as it is through playing can aim at achieving the three P’s which CRC promotes very often – protection, participation and provision. Protection is achieved, through playing as the child is presented with adaptive capabilities and degrees of resilience through play. The experience of playing impacts changes to the very architecture of the brain specifically in the systems which deals with motivation, emotion and rewards and leads to further play. Therefore, play acts across a variety of adaptive systems and contributes to the building up of resilience, overall well being and health. Children get experience of pleasure, can regulate their emotions well, and build their initial stress response mechanism (Sturgess, 2003).
Participation is also depicted through children’s play and is embedded in everyday life. However for certain children, their immediate environment may be having fear and extreme violence, and local spaces may be inaccessible due to fear of fatality and some regions can be spaces of oppression. Namely, in the case or Syrian refugees, the children are raised in environments of uncertainty, fear and extreme violence. In these areas, adult supervision becomes a critical aspect of the children’s lives, and their natural participation instinct is suppressed. Lastly provision rights should also be promoted as it ensures that social as well as physical environments can support the ability of children to play.
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