Playtime! Inaugural International Day of Play promotes play for a better world

11 JUNE 2024

Playtime! Inaugural International Day of Play promotes play for a better world

Charles Sturt University academics organising the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are joining the celebrations of the inaugural International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June by inviting children to draw themselves playing.

  • Organisers of the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are inviting children to ‘draw themselves playing’ in recognition of the importance of play and International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June
  • Play is a universal language spoken by people of all ages, transcending national, cultural and socio-economic boundaries
  • ECV2024 is a free interdisciplinary international conference to share research about innovative methods, theories, and partnerships with children, families and practitioners

Charles Sturt University academics organising the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are joining the celebrations of the inaugural International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June by inviting children to draw themselves playing.

Conference co-chair Dr Belinda Downey (pictured left, below with co-organisers) in the Charles Sturt School of Education said the first-ever International Day of Play marks a significant milestone that encourages all people, especially children, to prioritise playing and reap the beneficial rewards offered though play.

“Play has the power to transcend geographic, linguistic, cultural and socio-economic boundaries as it is a universal language,” Dr Downey said.

“Play can foster relationships, a sense of community, and national pride while supporting well-being and skill development.”

Dr Downey said research since the late 1800s has argued the role of play is fundamental in children’s learning and development.

“Through play, children can learn to solve their problems, with support from adults and independently. Play also assists children to develop agency in their lives, cultivate their resilience by overcoming fears, acquire conflict resolution skills essential for navigating life, and build their empathy and communication skills which are crucial for all their ongoing interactions and relationships,” she said.

“Early childhood professionals, including teachers and allied health practitioners, have long understood that engaging with play intentionally supports children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical skill development.”

Researchers have found that intentional, guided play offers an optimal space for children to learn.

Intentional, guided play can occur through various activities like modelling, demonstrating, open-ended questioning, speculating, explaining and participating in shared problem-solving and thinking tasks with other children and adults.

Dr Downey explained that play environments that are engaging, welcoming and reflective of children’s interests and cultural backgrounds serve to stimulate their curiosity and promote meaningful and challenging experiences.

These environments and the relationships children develop through play facilitate the interactions that foster high-level thinking.

“Intentional and guided play are important but open-ended, spontaneous and child-centred play also hold an important role in children’s development,” she said.

“Play with peers provides children the necessary space and time to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, form friendships, and learn to communicate effectively.

“These crucial skills set children up for academic success and lifelong learning and are developed during play.”

In celebration of International Day of Play, the organisers of the ECV2024 Conference are creating a global online gallery of children’s drawings titled Children Draw Playing.

This will be similar to the Children Draw Talking Global Online Gallery that was created in 2022 for ECV2022 where 200 children from 24 countries submitted drawings.

“Drawing is a form of play that offers children an inclusive way to teach adults about children’s perspectives and experiences of the world,” Dr Downey said.

“We want to share the voices of children from around the world in our international gallery by asking them to draw about their play.”

Parents can enter their child’s drawing here.

ECV2024 is a free interdisciplinary international conference focused on sharing research about innovative methods, theories and partnerships with children, families, and practitioners. It supports social justice during early childhood and within the early childhood sector.

International speakers will present research or commentary in a virtual online space. Presentations will share innovations to improve the lives of children and families and support the evidence-based practice of early childhood educators.

The ECV2024 conference will be held online from Monday 25 to Thursday 28 November and registrations can be made online at the conference website.

Presentation submissions from early childhood researchers are welcome. Please submit an Abstract here.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Belinda Downey, contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

Photo: (left to right) Dr Belinda Downey (ECV2024 chair), Dr Carolyn Gregoric (ECV2024 conference secretary), Professor Sharynne McLeod (ECV2024 chair)


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