A short film, celebrating the importance of childhood play, is going viral on social media.
The beautiful video from Creators Educational Trust launched on Saturday, and has already amassed thousands of views.
The Hamilton-based non-profit organisation has four early childhood centres and also runs a home-based early childhood education programme, Creators@Home.
The video was commissioned to engage staff, parents and the wider community on the importance of play and its impact on child development, learning and relationships.
“We wanted to re-examine how our children are playing and consider have we lost the art of play,” says Creators lead design and project manager Kym Gibson. “How does playing together build relationships and connect us with each other, and what is the importance of outdoor, structured play?”
The video was the culmination of months of discussion around the inquiry topic, ‘when we were young’, which also focused on the way children play today compared to their parents and grandparents.
In the video, a child is seen playing outdoors, immersed in a make-believe adventure. He is pictured running through the bush and builds a rampart of bricks. His father is seen sitting on a deck, reading a tablet. The boy grabs a stick, runs to his father, and invites him to play, but is rejected. Eventually the father puts down his digital device, picks up the stick and engages with his son in a sword fight.
The video ends with words on the screen: ‘play, connecting generations since ages ago’.
Research and literature has documented the gradual reduction in the time children spend in free play due a variety of reasons, including lack of time and less access to natural green spaces, says Gibson. Parents’ fears and time spent on screens and devices also impacted children’s play.
“We know from international research that children’s outside play is declining,” says Gibson. “In the UK, a survey last year found that nearly three-quarters of children spend less than one hour outside a day, which is less time that prison inmates get. Parents in the survey said their children had fewer opportunities to play outside than they did when they were young. That’s concerning.”
Gibson says that the video is relevant to everyone. “Ultimately the video is about the connection between a parent and child, and it could be a mother and daughter, or a grandparent and grandchild. It’s about the art of play and the power it has to connect us all, across generations.”
Gibson says that when a child is engaged in free play – building something from natural resources or using their imaginations to create something or push boundaries – they are developing both their physical body and minds in “wonderful ways”.
Taking time to “be present” with our children, also has an impact, says Gibson.
“As a parent it’s not easy, but I know for me that when I take time to sit down with my son, and be present, and focus solely on him, it makes a difference,” says Gibson.
She says Creators is on a mission to “bring back play” and would like parents and educators around the country to engage in a discussion on how to do that.
Over the coming months Creators will be posting ideas about play on their social media channels and want to start a discussion with parents and educators.
“We are inviting a discussion on our social media channels and using the hashtag #bringbackplay,” says Gibson. “There will be lots of ideas and competitions, and we want to hear from people about how we can better connect through play and encourage outdoor and free play opportunities for young children.”
The video was filmed by Hamilton-based filmmaker Jonathan Nickerson from Milk & Honey Media.
• Video: https://www.facebook.com/creatorschartwell/videos/717873321743811/
• For more information about Creators Educational Trust please see www.creators.org.nz
• Share the video on your social media channels with the hashtag #bringbackplay
• Share your ideas on how play can connect people and hashtag #bringbackplay