Social play is key in preparing children for school

Child development and expert play organisation, Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide, suggest preschool play should place a stronger emphasis on social and emotional development.

A recent international research study by Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide – expert consultancy in child development, play and parenting led by Dr Amanda Gummer – showed that 50 per cent of parents of preschool children feel their child should be spending more time on educational play.

The organisation argues, however, that there is a whole range of skills which help children become curious, excited learners, outside of the core subjects. Confidence, resilience, creativity, and social skills have been cited by the expert team as the key focus for Early Years education, in order to ready children not only for education, but also for future happiness and wellbeing.

Despite the worries expressed by parents, the findings of the study showed that nine out of ten children do in fact spend at least enough time, if not more, on educational play. Conversely, based upon the Good Play Guide’s Balancing Play concept, which promotes a healthy ‘diet’ of varied types of play for children, it was found that three quarters of children aren’t getting enough active, free play.

The Balancing Play concept suggests that a well-rounded development for children depends upon a varied approach to play, with certain aspects, such as active free play, imaginative play, board games, team games, construction play, reading and creative play, making up the bulk of their play time, while screen time, educational play and quiet solitary play should take up significantly less of their day.

Amanda Gummer, founder and MD of the Good Play Guide, explains: “Our Balanced Play Pyramid provides a great way to get a good mix of the different types of play, in a way which helps children reach their full potential while enjoying happy, healthy childhoods.

“There are no time limits for each area of play, so the model can be adjusted to suit each family or setting, but it gives a good guide for parents and educators alike.”

The Good Play Guide offers training and seminars for nurseries and Early Years settings which can be tailored to individual needs. The company is offering a discount of 10 per cent off the price of its Balancing Play seminar to NMT readers. Simply quote NMT10 when booking to claim your discount.

To find out more about the Good Play Guide’s training and seminars, head to

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