Post Pandemic Play
Welcome to 2021. The year of "play." At least that's what we here at Project Play are tagging it. Our hope is that after this pandemic, children around the globe will peek their heads out to the backyard and race out to play.
The pandemic has forced families to stay inside. No school, no sports and no organized events have left children isolated like never before.
"We always worried about technology's role in minimizing creative play," said Project Play author Marlene Byrne. "The pandemic has accelerated the lack of open playtime for children. Without friends in the backyard, children have relied more heavily on technology to entertain."
Project Play has announced an initiative to prepare parents and promote play once the pandemic has passed. The goal is to bring unstructured play, and it's importance in children's growth, back to the forefront.
"We want to promote a movement amongst parents and child advocates to make creative play a priority for children in 2021," said Byrne. "Turning habits from inside technology to outside play will take retraining for children and adults alike."
Studies show that habits form quickly. According to a study by the University College in London, the average time to form a new habit is 66 days. Although the data varies, we know children's rituals can easily be established within the months of society's shut down. The good news is that the old adage, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is true. Adults may find changing habits difficult but children's brains are not fully developed and more malleable. By focusing on the importance of creative play, we can help change the habits established in the pandemic quarantine and replace isolated, sedentary rituals with social, active alternatives.
"Parents can start by getting children excited about post-pandemic summer activities," said Byrne. "By having them create future plans for friends and play, parents can begin to promote engagement."
Project Play books provide stories about backyard games like Treasure Hunt and Kick the Can to teach children and inspire them to play. They are just one way to help children look forward to the possibilities of what they can do once society opens up. Parents with should get creative in planning for "what to do with friends" in the upcoming months.
Now more than ever, hope will drive us to finishing the pandemic safely. Those aspirational discussions can prepare children and get them excited for the fun to come.