17. Confidence and Awareness
Building confidence and awareness around the value of play would support inclusive play opportunities for all children.
"Parents who do not constantly set up activities give their children more free time, but this is at odds with the perception that "good play" is "paid for play". All parents want to do the best for their children regardless of income levels, but nowadays there is a belief/culture that good parenting requires "managing" your child, ferrying them to activities. This may take away their independent development."
As highlighted above (see Section 6), there is a concern that parents and carers - surrounded by conflicting messages and pressures - may lack confidence in supporting children's play. A widely aired concern was that there is a lack of understanding of the benefits of play and the value of free play (child-led, play structured by children not adults).
It wasn't widely felt that information about play was lacking but rather that it was difficult for some parents and carers to access it or, by implication, put it in context and act on it confidently. Concurrent with this review, a study was undertaken to consider information, messages and resources available to parents and carers in Scotland for cost effective play in the home (Roshdy, F., Stringer, E. (2015). A wide range of advice and activity information for a variety of family groups was found to be available. Whilst the information was generally universal and could be applied to all families and in most cases adapted to a child's individual needs there were also examples of resources developed specifically for a target segment. The authors noted that the majority of resources are in written format and can be found online. They point out that this "introduces a risk to more vulnerable segments of society without access to the Internet or with low reading skills to be excluded. However there is evidence that access to this information is often provided by a support or health worker provided by a public or third sector organisation such as Children 1st, NHS Scotland, Sure Start etc."
Key gaps were highlighted: no resources were found that are directly targeted to kinship families on the subject of play in the home and similarly for other non-standard family types; the 14-18 year old group are not being served in a positive fashion with the majority of resources relating to this group being around stopping or preventing negative behaviour; there was limited usage of video and audio resources found relating to the topic of play in the home; and, there are 14 council areas where information on play in the home could not be found on a local level.
Within the Inclusive Play Review, the Scottish Government's PlayTalkRead and Book Bugs were frequently mentioned as examples to emulate in reaching more parents and a carers with information and support for play.
As in the theme of Rules and Regulations, above, it was difficult to identify in the review aspects of this theme which related specifically to inclusion as, again, there was a strong sense in which this was a more universal issue in Scotland and, if addressed universally, would have an effect of supporting inclusion in a broader way.
"We need a major campaign explaining/educating everyone about play"
However well-prepared, most parents and carers feel themselves to be learning all the time as they raise their children, working through new issues, facing tricky personal and practical challenges and encountering new experiences as they go along. Thinking about contemporary issues that relate to play, brain science and scientific evidence of the benefits of play are all there in the mix. Parents and carers of children with additional support needs have all that and more.
It is important, however, that the value of playing is understood by parents and carers of disabled or disadvantaged children and young people, and by the professionals they have contact with. The opportunity to enjoy play and friendship with family and peers is a basic need.
In this section we would reiterate the recommendations made in Section 6 (Play at Home and in the Family Environment)
Email: Deborah Gallagher
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