Right to Play


By
Dr. M.I. Quraishi
PhD, MPE, BPE
Founder President, Play India Play (Trust)
Director of Phy. Edu. & Sports
Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya
Indore (Madhya Pradesh)

Awadhesh Kumar Shirotriya
PhD* M.Phil, MPE, BPEd, BSc., P.E., H.E.
Sports Secretary
Play India Play (Trust)
 


ABSTRACT

It is very unfortunate to note that "Play" is being denied to the children of developing countries because of the factors like wrongly conceived education policies, poverty, social customs, less importance to play in academics, attitude of teachers, parents and school administrators, urbanization, mechanization etc. and India is no exception to it. It is being observed that a majority of the children become adult without playing thus negatively effecting physical, mental and social aspects of their personality. Play or physical activity is an inborn instinct in living beings. Physical activities are essential for the growth and development. The modern living or mechanized life continuously reducing the use of the human body i.e. physical activities affecting the human body adversely. Non participation in play or physical activities will also drastically affect the mental and social development of the human race. Earlier human race was involved in physical activities for survival but now it is important or must in order to fulfill its intrinsic need of physical activities & now it is only possible through play. Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the UN High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. Play is an inevitable reality of life as well as a medium of education.The right to play is a global issue. Around the world children's play opportunities are threatened through war, poverty, fear, widening gap between the poor and rich and unbalanced importance given to academic pursuits. There is growing concern about the effects of 'play deprivation' on children and young people and of the possibility that children's play is restricted to a degree that is causing them long term harm. The situation in developing countries is very alarming and India is no exception to it, hence, it is high time that Indian constitution should adopt "Right to Play" as its Seventh right and make all possible efforts at grass root level to make all play especially the children & youth of India. The policies of India should mobilize the movement of PLAY in such a manner where by mass is involved in physical play (physical activities) thus people of India become strong & making India a strong nation.

"In supporting children's right to play, attention must be paid not simply to the external expressions of play, but to the conditions in which 'playfulness' thrives."

Full Length Paper

"The right to play is a child's first claim on the community. Play is nature's training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing deep and enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens."
                                                                                                            (David Lloyd George 1925)

INTRODUCTION

It is very unfortunate to note that "Play" is being denied to the children of developing countries because of the factors like wrongly conceived education policies, poverty, social customs, less importance to play in academics, attitude of teachers, parents and school administrators, urbanization, mechanization etc. and India is no exception to it. It is being observed that a majority of the children become adult without playing thus negatively effecting physical, mental and social aspects of their personality.

It is also very disheartening to note that children of developed countries are also becoming more inclined towards T.V., mobiles, electronic gadgets, passive life style creating negative impacts on their growth and development.

It is important to take immediate well directed steps globally to tackle this pathetic situation failing to which coming generation is not going to excuse us for their unbalanced growth and development. It will amount to the crime against mankind. Play or physical activity is an inborn instinct in living beings. We often see animals being involved in playful activities and same is true with the human beings. Physical activities are essential for the growth and development. The modern living or mechanized life continuously reducing the use of the human body i.e. physical activities affecting the human body adversely and gradually making it weaker and weaker. If possible steps are not taken in this regard than we are going to have the human race which will have a very big head on the shoulder and limbs like match stick. Non participation in play or physical activities will also drastically affect the mental and social development of the human race thus affecting mental aspects like reasoning analysis, interpretation, anticipation, action and reaction and social aspects like cooperation, dedication, loyalty, division of labour, leadership, followership etc. adversely. Earlier human race was involved in physical activities for survival but now it is important or must in order to fulfill its need & it is only possible through play. Now a day's children have less time to play than previous generations due to utmost emphasis put on academic accountability and a push for improved test scores across the nation. This change in educational practice also "appears to have led to a corresponding decline in the general understanding of the important contribution that high quality play can make" in children's development. The right to play is a global issue. Around the world children's play opportunities are threatened through war, poverty, fear and the widening gap between the poor and rich. The right of play is evident throughout nature and is perceived in people and animals, particularly in the cognitive development and socialization of those engaged in developmental processes.

Meaning of Play

In the modern theories and principles of education, 'play' has wider meaning and far reaching effects. Any play without physical activity is like the body without a soul. Play is not only a biological satisfying activity aiming to help human survival but it is also woven in the intellectual texture of personality. Play is universal in nature. All the children play and they play remarkably alike. The play is not bounded by any caste, colour, creed, nationality etc. Every child plays during his/her infancy and childhood stages of growth and development. Play can be defined as a physical or mental activity that has no purpose or objective outside of pure enjoyment or amusement. Play is extremely important for humans from birth to death. Play is a state of mind, but it is also a state of body, emotion, and spirit. Play refers to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment. If any children do not play in the initial stages of his development it means there is some problem with him and such kind of behavior will definitely deviate his normal pattern of growth and development towards the unusual one. In the long run it will create numerous problems of personality development, general behavior and social adjustment. Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the UN High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. Play is an inevitable reality of life as well as a medium of education. Playing has been long recognized as a critical aspect of childhood and child development.

Theories of Play

The biologists, sociologists, psychologists and educationists have given following theories of play:

1. Surplus Energy Theory: This theory was promoted by the German Philosopher Van Schiller and the English naturalist Herbert Spencer. According to them play is the result of an aimless expenditure of surplus energy. They maintain that children play because they seem to be overcharged with physical (organism) energy.

2. Anticipatory (Pre Exercise) Theory: This theory was explained by Carl Groos. He considered play as a "Pre exercise in the preparation for serious business in life". He believed that play develops instincts so as to help the child become an adult.

3. Recreational Theory: The pioneer of this theory, Lord Kames and G.T.W.Patrick are of the strong belief that "The basis of play is recreation". They consider recreation to be the re-charger of energy which we spend in serious work. Further, they stated that, instead of discharging the surplus energy through play activities, play rebuilds it.

4. Recapitulatory Theory: This theory was proposed by G. Stanley Hall. He stated that the child does not make a rehearsal of his future but repeats the social past, and hence play is a repetition of the past rather than anticipation of future.

5. Cathartic Theory: The origin of this theory is traced in the writing of Aristotle. This theory stated that play clears the individual of undesirable elements in his personality. Cathartic theory is conceived with emotions, and play is the best media to release/overcome the emotions.

6. Instinct Practice Theory: The profounder of this theory Prof.M.C. Dougall believes that instincts are the prime movers of behavior of both men and animals. Play is due to the "Pre- mature developing of instincts". It is an expression/display/ demonstration of instincts of combat, construction, destruction, self assertion etc. which involves the element of competitions and rivalry.

7. Social Contact Theory: Sociologists and social- psychologists consider play as a medium of social recognition in the society. Play provides plenty of opportunities for socialization and individual recognition.

8. Play is life Theory: This theory is concerned with the educational philosophy of John Dewey. He believes that the reason of play can be explained on the ground that "All organic living beings are naturally active and their natural activities in the period of their growth and development are playful".

9. Psycho-Analytical Theory: The greatest clinical psychologist, Sigmund Freud is behind this theory. According to the psycho analyst, play is a medium of outlet the anxieties , tensions, conflicts, frustrations, etc. which results from repression and suppression of the libidinal energy desires and wishes in the early childhood, or at any stage of growth and development

10. Cognitive Theory: This theory was proposed by Piaget .Play is derived from the child's working out of two fundamental characteristics of his mode of experience and development.  These are accommodation and assimilation -- the attempts to integrate new experiences into the relatively limited number of motor and cognitive skills available at each age.

Significance of Play

There's no way that we can help children to learn to love and preserve this planet, if we don't give them direct experiences with the miracles and blessings of nature."

Play brings hugely important benefits to children as individuals, groups, families, communities and society as a whole. The benefits of ensuring that children have access to play opportunities link a number of learning, health, social relationships. Children and young people disabled and non-disabled whatever their age, culture, ethnicity or social and economic background, need and want to play, indoors and out, in whatever way they can. Through play, children also learn the skills necessary to effectively participate in their world. Theorists suggest that the absence of play is an obstacle to the development of healthy and creative individuals. Psychoanalysts believe that play is necessary for mastering emotional traumas or disturbances; psycho socialists believe it is necessary for ego mastery and learning to live with everyday experiences; constructivists believe it is necessary for cognitive growth, maturationists believe it is necessary for competence building and for socializing functions in all cultures of the world; and neuroscientists believe it is necessary for emotional and physical health, motivation, and love of learning. Play is not merely wastage of time, efforts and energy; it has biological, psychological & mental, sociological and educational implications.

Biological

Sociological

Psychological & Mental

Educational

Physical and Motor Development

Socialization Skills

Confidence Development

Language & Literacy development

Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Connection to Others

Play builds self-esteem

Play provides base of Career

Strength, flexibility

Followership Skills

Cognitive Benefits

Academic Development

Stronger & healthier bodies

Increases empathy compassion & sharing

Reduced Anxiety

Problem Solving

Strength coordination

Conflict resolution
Leadership skill development

Reduced Depression
Positive Mood

Improves Communication skills

   

Emotional benefits

Encouraging children to experiment and take risks.


MEANING OF RIGHTS & UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

Rights mean those freedoms which are essential for personal good as well as the good of the community. Rights are entitlements or permissions, usually of a legal or moral nature. Rights are of vital importance in the fields of law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology. The UN Convention on the Rights of the child is an international treaty that sets out universally accepted rights for children. It is a benchmark against which a nation's treatment of its children can be measured. It brings together in one comprehensive code the benefits and protection for children hither to scattered in a variety of other agreements, including the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted in 1959.

Article 31 of the UN Convention

1. That every child has the right 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.

2. That member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

FUNDAMENTALS RIGHTS IN INDIAN CONSTITUTION

Fundamental Rights is a charter of rights contained in the Constitution of India. It guarantees civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human freedoms which every Indian citizen has the right to enjoy for a proper and harmonious development of personality. These rights universally apply to all citizens, irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed, colour or sex. They are enforceable by the courts, subject to certain restrictions.

The six fundamental rights recognized by the Indian constitution are:
1. The right to equality
2. The right to freedom
3. The right to freedom from exploitation
4. The right to freedom of religion
5. Cultural and educational rights
6. The right to constitutional remedies

ERODING FACTORS IN CHILD'S RIGHT TO PLAY

Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for large population children. Researchers and Pediatricians can advocate for children by helping families, school systems, and communities consider how best to ensure that play is protected as they seek the balance in children's lives to create the optimal developmental milieu.

Factors that effects play are as follows:-

1. Continuing poverty: This factor is very much evident in underdeveloped countries and the inner cities of industrialized countries. Poverty affects the likelihood of progressing through school to attain formal educational qualifications and physical activity at school.

2. Changing cultural values in developed societies: Where indifference towards the importance of play is prevalent. The many activities children are required to participate in and the amount of time they spend viewing television decrease the time they spend in play.

3. De-emphasis of physical education: Physical Education is playing vital role for child overall development but one of the academic trends that we find particularly disturbing today is the de-emphasis on physical education in the schools and parents consider other subjects to be more important compare to physical education.

4. Inadequate environmental planning: Developers do not include play spaces in their community designs; pollution and traffic deter childhood play; and segregation of children in communities prevents the child's day from being an integral part of the life of a neighborhood.

5. Increased attention to academics and enrichment activities: Currently, many school children are given less free time and fewer physical activities at school. Parents and teachers attach too much importance to "Home Work" as part of school studies than to play.

6. Child labor: Some children are given less time for free exploratory play as they are hurried to adapt into adult roles and prepare for their future at earlier ages.

7. Hurried lifestyle: Changes in urban lifestyles seemingly have influenced a shift in the attitudes of adults towards children's play, their recreation & leisure activities.

8. Parental Employment Patterns: Another factor that may be having an impact on children's playtime is changes in parental employment. In urban areas many families have two working parents .Parents also are often working long hours.

9. Advances in Technology: Due to technological advances many childrens are spending long hours in front of the computer.

10. Changing Attitudes to the Use of Public Space: In some urban communities less public space is available for play areas that accommodate play equipment for children.

11. Increased Crime Rates and Fears for Personal Safety: Increased crime rates in some urban communities may also limit children's playtime. Children and young people are increasingly becoming the victims of violent crimes.

12. Cost of the equipments: Equipments are too expensive now days. It is not possible to every child to purchase equipment for games and sports.

13. Neglecting the indigenous activities & non glamorous games like kabaddi, kho-kho, volleyball, football and handball etc. in spite of their suitability in all respect.

14. Lack of knowledge regarding benefits of physical activity: It is evident on the part of parents, academicians and policy makers.

15. Non availability of playing facilities & distance of the playing facilities from residence: Because of rapid urbanization.

MEANS &WAYS TO MAKE RIGHT TO PLAY FEASIBLE

The Indian Constitution has a framework within which ample provisions exist for the protection, development and welfare of children. There are a wide range of laws that guarantee children their rights and entitlements as provided in the Constitution and in the UN Convention. It was during the 50s decade that the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly. This Declaration was accepted by the Government of India. As part of the various Five Year Plans, numerous programmes have been launched by the Government aimed at providing services to children in the areas of health, nutrition and education.

Recommendations to promote Right to Play:

1. Parental attitude: Parents should be educated regarding the limitless valves of play and its effect on the wellbeing of the children.

2. School management should emphasize on physical education as subject: Physical education which is commonly a part of the curriculum at school level includes training in the development and care of the human body and maintaining physical fitness.

3. Proper time for play: All children need at least 60 minutes of free play each day, preferably outdoors.

4. Children value and benefit from staffed play provision: Children should have access to a choice of staffed
facilities where children's play rights and needs are the first priority, such as adventure playgrounds, play centers', holiday play schemes, afterschool play clubs, breakfast play clubs, toy libraries.

5. Children should be able to play freely in their local areas: Children have the same right to use and enjoy public space as others.

6. Adults should let children play: Parents and other adults can support children and young people's play by respecting the value and importance of all types of play, playing with their children and by creating opportunities and allowing time for children to play independently with their friends, inside and outside the home.

7. Children's play is enriched by skilled play workers/physical education teachers: Qualified, skilled play workers and physical education teachers are trained to put children's play needs at the centre of their work in a variety of settings, enhancing the range and quality of play experiences for all children.

8. Safe Places to play: Children need safe places to play within an easy walk from their homes.

9. Pleasant play associations & Place: Where individual enjoying being around one's friend

10. Provide effective coaching practices for children's: Children should have special coaching much different from the adults.

ROLE OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHERS TO PROMOTE QULAITY PLAY:

Schools can play a critical role in increasing physical activity by offering daily physical education programme and other opportunities to recreate. Physical education not only gives children an opportunity to be active but it teaches them the skills they need to be active throughout their lifetime and develop wholesome personality. Thus, investing in quality physical education in all schools for all grades is a logical and essential step toward improving the health and fitness of the students.

* They should design a school environment and schedule that promotes play.
* They should instruct students in sports, recreational activities and healthy lifestyle issues, in order to motivate, develop and enhance level of physical fitness and skills, self-esteem and interpersonal skills.
* They should instruct school-age students on healthy living, exercise and physical fitness.
* They should organize and supervise athletic activity during class and instruct students on proper exercise routines and technique.
* They should create a safe learning environment where children are free to explore and play without getting hurt.
* They should use their knowledge about their student's development, interest and ideas to choose materials and arrange the classroom or playground in a way that invites children to engage in fun and meaningful learning experiences.
* They should intentional in guiding and extending children's play, ask open ended productive questions that extend student's thinking. There are many different types of productive questions, like attention-focusing questions help children focus on important details of their play.

CONCLUSIONS:

Play is quickly vanishing from preschool classrooms and is being replaced with additional teacher directed, incremental practices. Despite their perception as being more valuable in the classroom, these practices teach fewer skills and concepts than play and in a far less meaningful way. Children are growing up in a rapidly changing world characterized by dramatic shifts in what all children are expected to know and be able to do. Higher and tougher standards of learning for all populations of students are focusing on a narrow view of learning. Consequently, students have less time and opportunity to play than did children of previous generations. Few would disagree that the primary goal of education is student learning and that all educators, families, and policymakers bear the responsibility of making learning accessible to all children. Decades of research has documented that play has a crucial role in the optimal growth, learning, and development of children from infancy through adolescence. Yet, this need is being challenged, and so children's right to play must be defended by all adults, especially educators, parents and policy makers. The time has come to advocate strongly in support of play for all children. There is growing concern about the effects of 'play deprivation' on children and young people and of the possibility that children's play is restricted to a degree that is causing them long term harm. Manifestations of this might be incidences of anti-social behavior, poorer motor skills unbalanced personality and less resilience to stressful or traumatic events. The constraint to children's free play globally has a direct bearing on all others. And it is high time that Indian constitutions should adopt Right to Play as its Seventh right and make all possible efforts at grass root level to make all play especially the children & youth of India. The policies of India should mobilize the movement of PLAY in such a manner where by mass is involved in physical play (physical activities) thus people of India become strong & making India a strong nation.

"In supporting children's right to play, attention must be paid not simply to the external expressions of play, but to the conditions in which 'playfulness' thrives."

References:

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C. FRANK (2004) Working at Play: The Phenomenon of 19th Century Worker-Competitions, Journal of Leisure Research, (e-journal) Available from: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-121081882/working-play-phenomenon-19th.html (Accessed at 25/04/10).

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ELENI MELLOU (1994) Play Theories: A contemporary review, Early Child Development and Care, (e-journal) Available from: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a746662708 (Accessed 16 /01/10).

EMSLIE A. and MESLE C (2009) Play: The Use Of In Early Childhood Education. Gyanoadaya, 2 (2) pp.1-26.

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GLOBAL CONSULTATIONS ON CHILDREN'S RIGHT TO PLAY: Article 31, UN convention. Available from: http://article31.ipaworld.org/ (Accessed 01/11/10).

GWEN DEWAR (2008) The cognitive benefits of play: Effects on the learning brain (Online Article), Available from: http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html (Accessed at 28 /02/10).

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KENNETH R. GINSBURG (2007) The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds, Pediatrics (e- journal) Available from: http://www.aap.org/pressroom/playfinal.pdf (accessed 28/02/10).

RIEBER L. P. (1996) Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of micro worlds, simulations, and games, Educational Technology Research & Development (e-journal), Available from: http://it.coe.uga.edu/~lrieber/play.html (accessed 03/09/10).

SINGH AJMER et al. (2003) Essentials of Physical Education, New Delhi: Kalyani Publisher.

THE CHILDREN'S PLAY COUNCIL (1998) Charter for Children's Play. Available from: http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources/charter-for-childrens-play.pdf (Accessed at 08/08/10).

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   Published on IndianFaculty.com: 16/01/2012

 Source: E-mail 14/01/2012

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