The family that plays together stays together

With the school holidays fast approaching it is a great opportunity for families to incorporate more play while the children are off school.  Some adults may see play as trivial but for children play is important work as it helps them to make sense of their surroundings, problem solve and use their imaginations. 

Here are NAPCAN’s top ten tips on how to incorporate play into your children’s lives.


1.              Babies can participate in simple play activities.  Try playing ‘peek-a-boo’, blowing ‘raspberries’ or playing in the bath.

2.         Babies don’t need toys.  Try giving them simple things like plastic spoons, plastic containers or leaves.

3.         Toddlers don’t need many toys.  A few basic toys like dolls, cars, balls, boxes, dress-up clothes and other household bits and pieces will give lots of play possibilities.  Mud, sand and water also make great toys.

4.         Your toddler may be able to run, climb, open things, sing, chat and imitate how ‘big people’ do things.  Give them a chance to practice these skills when with you or with playmates.

5.         School aged children are good at playing alone or with other children but playing with you can still be special.  Try board games, card games or a craft activity.

6.         Your children are experts at noticing little differences.  Use this skill in your play together – exploring pictures or having fun trying different words in rhymes, books and songs.

7.         Play a game in the backyard or go for a walk in the park.

8.         Build a cubby house under a table or outside.

9.         Dress up in old clothes, shoes and hats and put on a concert.

10.       Sometimes during play children may bite, push, hit or scream.  This is frustration, not being ‘bad’.  During play time a gentle, consistent approach to discipline will help your child learn what is OK and not OK.

Play is essential part of every child’s life so make play a priority in your family over the Easter break.  NAPCAN produces brochures which provide additional play ideas.   
You can order these on-line by going to:

NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) is Australia’s leading advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  NAPCAN’s goal is to bring about the changes necessary in individual and community behaviour and in government policy to stop abuse and neglect before it starts.

NAPCAN also works directly with children and young people conducting innovative programs to strengthen protective behaviours and build resilience and life skills. NAPCAN also assists ‘at risk’ parents through face-to-face programs and works in local communities building inclusive networks and strengthening local support of children and families.

For further information go to:

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