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Play & Creativity

Play and creativity have an important role in supporting babies and young children to be mentally healthy. Even very young babies can express themselves through play and as children grow they find opportunities for self-expression and exploration through stories, drawing, painting and games.

Play and creativity can help us understand children as they find ways to express themselves that don’t rely solely on verbal communication. Creative play allows children to integrate their feelings into activities so they can express their thoughts and emotions.

Spend some time thinking about your own experiences of play and creativity:

  • What forms of play and creativity did you engage in as a child? Who did you play with? How much freedom did you have? How did your play differ from how children engage in play today?
  • How can you develop playful attitudes and interactions with babies and children?

How might we create environments that encourage play and creativity in the early years?

  • How might families be encouraged to engage children in creativity and play at home?
  • How might other settings and services working in the early years use play and creativity to support mental health and wellbeing in infancy?

Learn more about the links between play and children’s mental health in this presentation where Professor Helen Dodd from the University of Exeter explains how play has changed over time, and explores how adventurous play might be considered a protective factors when it comes to children’s mental health.