By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager
Playing was like a job for me when I was a child. I did it every day. And anywhere I went, children were playing. There were very few structured, scheduled activities. Play was just what kids did back then, no matter where we were or whom we were with. Well, until we dropped from exhaustion with a big smile on our faces…and then we slept soundly.
The United Nations has designated November 20th as National Child Day. This day is an opportunity to reflect on how we can advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights to make Halton and the world a better place for them.
We know that play and rest are vital to positive child development, but did you know that, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, children have the right to play and rest? Just as they have the right to basic needs such as food, shelter, safety, protection and education.
Considering this, our challenge is to prioritize play and rest in our tightly-scheduled, high -stress, plugged-in world. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Find a place at home to keep a puzzle going for days.
- Turn the music on. Maybe someone will start to dance!
- Waiting for laundry to dry? Grab a Frisbee and go outside.
- Teach the dog a new trick together
- Leave board games out and visible.
- Organize a scavenger hunt in the park.
- Get down on the floor and build something (with Lego, cards, pillows or anything handy and safe).
- Turn lights down in the evening.
- Continue a bedtime routine as children grow up.
- Limit screen time in bedrooms for everyone.
- Encourage short naps as needed.
- Model rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Keep bedrooms and bedtimes stress-free.
- Take your vacation time.
A child’s right to play and rest is making a comeback. Be part of the movement!
More information and resources related to National Child Day are available through the Public Health Agency of Canada at canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/childhood-adolescence/national-child-day.html UNICEF Canada also provides resources at unicef.ca/ncd, including a kid-friendly poster that lists the rights outlined in the UN Convention.