National Week of Play

children playing ball

Join the Alliance's National Week of Play: 21 - 27 June 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a hugely detrimental impact on children's access to play. 

It has caused their worlds to shrink and restricted their ability to play. Many playgrounds and outdoor recreation areas have been closed, and many children have been denied the opportunities to socialise with their friends and peers. 

Enabling environments in early years settings that once encouraged risk, challenge and exploration were repurposed with the aim of keeping children away from each other. Positive relationships may have been compromised by the need to operate in ‘bubbles’.

The full impact on their health and wellbeing at such a crucial time in their development has yet to be fully understood.

Making sense of these confusing times

As early years educators we know that play is fundamental to a child’s learning and development. Play is how children make sense of the world. It helps them express their feelings, manage emotions and find out about themselves and others. 

Practitioners only need to observe how children are playing together and interacting with their environment to see how the pandemic has affected them. We must not assume that the passage of time will make everything right again.

Some children are still unsure about the rules and are waiting for adult direction before deciding what to play with and how. Play is even more important now as it is the first step in giving them back a sense of control after a confusing time in their lives.

It is through play that children will begin to make sense of what has happened and is still happening. It is through play that children who have been impacted the most will begin to heal and thrive as we look towards better times.

Putting play at the heart of practice

Prioritising play is not about doing anything differently but it is a timely reminder that having freedom and time to play supports development and learning across all areas.

That's why from 21 June the Early Years Alliance is launching a National Week of Play to encourage and inspire early years professionals to ensure that learning through play is at the heart of their practice, and to support parents to discover and explore new play ideas for the home learning environment.

What's going on?

Click on the titles below to see the activities taking place 

Panel on play

Four early years experts - Helen Moylett, Cathy Nutbrown, Nancy Stewart and Anni McTavish - are going to discuss the importance of play and what the focus of practitioners should be. The discussion will take place and be recorded on Zoom and made available to practitioners.

EduCare course

We are currently developing an EduCare course on play. 

Tips, resources and discussions

We will be sharing tips, blogs and videos on play for practitioners and parents throughout the National Week of Play.

Online sessions

In the following week in July, we will be offering four Alliance Spotlight sessions for early years professionals, delivered via Zoom, all on the topic of play.

1. The power of play – a reminder of the importance of play

  • Mindful play 
  • Therapeutic play 

2. Connecting through play – helping children to reconnect with their peers and the learning environment (indoors and outdoors) 

  • Play for PSED 
  • How play ignites the Characteristics of Effective Learning 

3. Rediscovering play 

Why do we stop playing – why should we play? What have you done today – to make you feel playful?

  • Engaging with children’s play to support their learning 
  • Helping grown-ups to reconnect with their innate ability to play 

4. A celebration of play 

Celebrating what has been achieved.


If you're interested in taking part in the National Week of Play leave us your details below and we'll email you all the resources and activities once they are available.

Sign up for Alliance's National Week of Play