On Saturday 28 May 2016, children across the globe will celebrate World Play Day. World Play Day is a day set aside on the International Children’s Calendar to celebrate play by the United Nations. With the help of various partners and well- wishers Nhaka Foundation is commemorating World Play Day by having a sports day for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) pupils at St Dominic’s Nora Primary School (26 May 2016), Mwanza Primary School (27 May 2016) and Dudzu Primary School (1 June 2016) in Mashonaland East, in the Goromonzi District.
Nhaka Foundation as an organisation driven by child education, we are excited for the upcoming World Play Day as this day commemorates the importance of incorporating play in ECD education. Play is crucial in a child’s development and to promote every child’s right to play it is set out in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. On the event children will be given a chance to play while they learn skills like fine motor skills, hand and eye coordination through the activities of the day. Our main goal is to encourage play as a way of learning and leave this as an ongoing sustainable exercise to be done by the schools and communities independently.
Play is the child's language and play is a fun, enjoyable activity that elevates children’s spirits and brightens their outlook on life. It expands self-expression, self-knowledge, self-actualization and self-efficacy, it stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulating their emotions, and boosts their confidence and ego. (Landreth, 2002). Play therefore provides us with a bridge or universal language and a common forum for interacting with children.
Zimbabwe has taken a step in incorporating play in its ECD curriculum. Play is particularly important in the Southern African context where most of our children below the age of 6 have limited or often no access to early childhood development opportunities. It is important to recognise that the type of play and games differ according to cultural context. These games can be form of cultural socialisation and instil in the children a form of cultural sensibility. For example I remember growing up I used to play mahumbwe with a lot of my friends and we would make mud pies and practice cooking sadza which we had seen older women doing. In addition, play allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival. Learning and development are clearly best fostered through play (Russ, 2004).
Going along with this year’s theme for World Play Day, “Play is for all ages” meaning even for adults, play isn’t just for children it’s for adults too. Play is an opportunity to explore new ways of learning and gives adults a chance to connect with their inner child. Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to children in a positive way. Children are not miniature adults, they have their own language which is play if we as adults want to get the best out of them, and we better learn to speak with them in a language they understand.
Play is also one of the most used therapeutic technics when doing intervention with children in a technique called ‘play therapy’, this is whereby play tools such as anatomically correct dolls for sexual abuse victims therapy and children’s court interventions. For physical therapy instruments such as sand balls are used for rehabilitation.
In conclusion we encourage parents, grandparents, teachers and the community at large to play with their children and stimulate their learning abilities. So let us remember 28 May 2016 we encourage you to tag @Nhakafoundation on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages on all the fun activities you have with your loved ones on World Play Day.
Social Worker/Programs Intern