Play strategy for Scotland: our vision

Scotland's first national play strategy.


Play encompasses children's behaviour which is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. It is performed for no external goal or reward, and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development - not only for individual children but also for the society in which they live.

Child holding up both hands which are covered in mud

"Review of research into children's play considers the element of 'fun' to be a central defining quality of children's play"
(Meire, 2007)

Play comes in many forms. It can be active, passive, solitary, independent, assisted, social, exploratory, educational or just for fun. Moreover, it can happen indoors or outdoors, it can be structured, creative, messy, entirely facilitated by the imagination or can involve using the latest gadget.

What is important is that children and young people have the freedom to choose how and when they play. From the earliest days and months play helps children learn to move, share, negotiate, take on board others' points of view and cultivate many more skills. It remains equally important throughout infancy, childhood, the teenage years through adolescence, and beyond into adulthood and at all ages, stages and abilities.

Many people say it's a child's 'job' to play and the whole of society has a role in ensuring we can support children to behave as children, minimising the pressure on them to grow up too quickly. We consider play as the primary tool for addressing this challenge, through allowing children and young people to experience fun, joy and laughter in a way that is important to them.

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