Parents told: Let your kids play outdoors
MANILA, Philippines – A child should not be buried in homework, extra-curricular activities and even their gadgets, a number of groups said as they launched a campaign on Wednesday highlighting the need for daily active play.
The Department of Education, Play Pilipinas and Johnson and Johnson Philippines tied up for the “Di Lang Laro ang Laro” (Play is Not Just Play) campaign, which is aligned with UNICEF’s Early Childhood Care and Development program and the World Health Organization’s recommendation of at least 60 minutes of active play daily for a child’s physical, mental and social development.
The campaign involves the use of television commercials, print advertising and the Internet in support of the advocacy.
According to UNICEF’s chief of education Lulay De Vera-Mateo, children who do not play outdoors regularly may have a hard time socializing with peers when they get older, among others.
She said parents, guardians and teachers should regularly let kids put down their books, smartphones and tablets and “give them space to satisfy their curiosity.”
“Kids need freedom to move and explore. Hindi lang dapat sila nakatali sa desk or chair,” De Vera-Mateo said, adding that play is valued in different cultures across the globe.
“In New Zealand, which is a highly developed country, they promote a play-based curriculum,” she mentioned. “Ang mga parents kasi [rito] natatakot, akala nila dapat natututo lang agad silang magbasa at magsulat.”
Play Pilipinas executive director Sigrid Perez, a former educator and school administrator, noted that some parents tend to underestimate the role of fun and games in a child’s development, with some sacrificing this for more study time.
She stressed that active play (one that involves movement and interaction with others – not just gadgets) is a child’s “biological need” that must be addressed, similar to eating and drinking.
“Biologically, they need that (active play), because that’s how they learn,” said Perez, whose group Play Pilipinas builds playgrounds in communities in different parts of the country. “If you cut that off [and not let them play and explore for themselves], you cut the door to learning. You cut a part of their growth and development.”
A mother to eight children aged between 2 and 11, Perez said she makes it a point to let her kids take a short break after a day in school. This “break,” she said, can be as simple as letting them experiment with random items such as boxes and bottles.
“I try not to put them in structured activities because school is structured already,” she explained. “I give them a chance to play to express themselves.”
Lessons beyond books
There are some skills that are best learned through active play, said DepEd Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali as he hopes that parents will soon understand how fun and games are crucial in shaping their children into well-rounded individuals.
In a video aired during the launch, Umali said different games – from piko or hopscotch to patintero – can teach kids how to focus, maintain balance, get along with others and overcome failure, skills that they can use when they enter the real world.
“Hindi lubusang nauunawaan ng mga magulang ang konsepto ng laro,” he lamented, which led to the birth of the campaign.
Television host Luisito “Bodjie” Pascua, for his part, said today’s youth should be allowed to enjoy games that their parents and grandparents grew up with instead of being glued to their tablets, smartphones and television sets.
“Napakahalaga ng paglalaro… Ang mga bata ngayon nakababad na lang sa mga gadgets nila,” said Pascua, who is best known as “Kuya Bodjie” of the popular children’s show “Batibot,” adding that regular play should also be done by adults so they will always feel young, happy and energized.