Put Play (and Rest) at the Top of your List for National Child Day Tuesday, November 20

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).

Children playing outside


Mother playing with her son in the back yard.


  • 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!

For more information and ideas on parenting, playing and sleep, visit haltoniparent.ca. Follow us @Haltoniparent

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.


National Child Day is a good time to reflect on the fact that “children are people, too”

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets manager

Children are often viewed in society as something to be tolerated, reined in, or hovered over. Perhaps, there are some things that we need to learn – things that only they can teach us.

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 the world a better place for children.

In Halton, we believe that all children are competent, capable, curious, creative and rich in potential and experience. They deserve our respect and our openness to hearing their voice in all matters that affect them. When we refocus our view of children from “problems to be fixed” to people of vast strength and potential – our experience changes, and our relationships with them deepen.*

Everyone can play a role in bettering the lives of children. In fact, one of the rights that children have is that all adults should do what is best for children, and that when adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.

I recall a party that I hosted for my daughter’s 7th birthday. I was hoping for a sunny day as it was a pool party in the back yard and 10 girls were coming. I had 2 tables set up for them – one was a big, beautiful picnic table close to the pool and the other one was an old fold-out card table which, in my rush, I left up on the back deck. Not thinking about how this set-up would affect seating, I continued with the party. When I asked them to come for lunch, I was horrified to find 9 girls squished onto the picnic table and one little girl sitting all alone at the card table on the back deck. It didn’t occur to me that I had set up an environment where it was possible that someone didn’t fit. It was like a dark cloud had covered the sky. We quickly moved the card table beside the picnic table and covered the whole thing with a table cloth so it looked like one big table. The 10th girl joined the group and it was a sunny day again!

It seems like such a small thing to think about but what a big difference it made to one little girl. Ten years later, she thanked me for moving that table. I had forgotten about it, but she hadn’t.

So, it isn’t just about what we give children or how we view them that is important, but also how we set up the spaces where they grow and learn to become caring supportive adults. It’s also important to consider how we, as adults, have the power to control the “weather”. Will it be a sunny day where you are, or a dark and cloudy one?

By observing children and reflecting on our own behavior, instead of judging and tolerating them, we can create a space for relationships to thrive.

For more information about the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, visit www.unicef.org/crc

For more information about Developmental Relationships, visit www.ourkidsnetwork.ca/Public/Relationships-Matter

*How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, 2014