Children’s human right to play

Article 31 of the convention of the rights of the child

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

Did you know that the right to engage in play is a human right?

And did you know that,


does not count?

Play is defined as an activity that is child initiated, controlled and structured by the child. It is driven intrinsically and entered into for the purpose of fun and is an essential part of children’s childhood. It’s inherent value lies purely in the act of play itself.

Play is recognised as essential to children’s health and well being. It contributes to their creativity, social skills, physical ability, cognitive and emotional development. Learning is a natural consequence of play.

Historically the need to recognise children’s right to play was to combat the child work force. These days children aren’t required or expected to work long hours for little pay as a means of contributing to family finances but their time has been equally stolen from them through schooling and hyper-scheduling.

Modern families can often be seen rushing from school run to work to after school clubs, sports groups, music lessons, social clubs, followed by homework and practice at home. Home educators are not always free from this expectation or societal norm. Many are governed by busy schedules and timetables with little room left for relaxing and play.

As unschoolers, we are more mindful of how we choose to spend our time and our children’s chosen groups and classes are focused on their personal interests, goals and learning styles. However, we must still be aware of hyper-scheduling and consciously create space for ourselves and our children to engage in free flowing, child initiated play. It might be that we are fortunate enough to find groups that are set up with this philosophy in mind and participants have the ability to follow their own path of exploration. But we must also be responsive to our children if they want to have time to pursue interests further when they return home equally if they choose to take a break from a regular timetabled pursuit.

Children who are permitted to play all day grow to be mindful of their own play and rest needs. Their play, through the years, begins to merge with seemingly more academic pursuits and we begin to use terms such as Self Directed Learning to describe what they are doing educationally, but in reality it continues to have all the hallmarks of play.

Play is essential for all human life. Create space in your life for more of the things that you enjoy, follow your interests and curiosity. Allow time for your children to follow theirs. Have fun, enjoy what you’re doing and embrace the things that your children love to do and do them more.

Read more

Play is…

What if my children play all day?

If my children play all day, what do I do?

What is the purpose of us playing with our children?

Published by heiditsteel

Teacher turned Unschooler: passionate about autonomous education and supporting our children's natural inclination towards learning through play.

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