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65% of 1-4 year olds not getting enough ‘active free play’

Findings come from Fundamentally Children’s in study in partnership with The Entertainer.

Recent research from Fundamentally Children has found that three quarters of children are missing out on ‘essential play opportunities’, including a large percentage of preschoolers.

Fundamentally Children recently partnered with The Entertainer in an international study to investigate whether children are getting a good balance of different play activities, as recommended by the Balanced Play Pyramid.

The survey marks the beginning for the wide-reaching Balancing Play campaign in 2019.

Fundamentally Children’s Balanced Play Pyramid encourages parents to prioritise different types of play, based on the range of benefits their child will gain from each activity. There is no set amount of time given, instead, the model encourages a sensible balance of activities during children’s leisure time.

In the survey of 840 British and American parents, it was found that almost three quarters of children under 12 are not getting enough active free play, such as running around or riding bikes.

This was true for 65% of 1-4 year olds, 73% of 5-8 year olds, and 77% of 9-12 year olds.

A lack of time was shown to be one of the biggest barriers to active free play for 32% of 1-4 year olds.

Looking at the other types of play in the Balanced Play Pyramid, the research also found that almost two thirds of 1-4 year olds may be missing out on structured social play – specifically sports games (57%) and board and card games (60%).

“Play is hugely important to a child’s development and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to support families and encourage them to look at new ways of enjoying playtime together,” said Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer. “We’re really excited to be supporting the Balanced Play campaign in our stores throughout summer, where parents can learn more about how they can support their children’s learning, well-being and development through play.”

Dr Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children, added: “It’s difficult for children of any age to have too much active free play, but our study showed that all age groups are falling below the recommended minimum.”

“I feel that as an industry, it’s our responsibility to help parents to redress the balance of play for their families, by offering expert tips and advice. Working with The Entertainer over the coming months, our team of experts will be supporting families through the Balancing Play campaign and we invite companies who are interested in joining us to get in touch to discuss how they can get involved.”

The Balancing Play campaign will aim to raise awareness of the value of play while showcasing ‘Good Toys’ to support a balanced approach. It will include a practical parent resource filled with expert advice and solutions to the barriers identified by the research, available at

The Good Toy Zone will also be touring family festivals and showcasing products, as well as a series of events in-store with The Entertainer.

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