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Fisher-Price launches new Play Programme

Fisher-Price has teamed with UK support charity Family Action to launch a new specialist-informed Play Programme for 0-5s, with the aim of helping with early childhood development.

The programme – which is available online and is free of charge – includes five modules that tackle the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of play and its importance for early childhood development.

It helps grown-ups understand the role they can play and provides quick and simple tips and activities to do at home. Activities in the Programme have been specially chosen by Family Action in the UK and Early Childhood Development experts based at Fisher-Price Play Lab in the US because of the early childhood developmental benefits they bring to young children.

The modules also include practical tips from Fisher-Price Play Lab child development experts on things such as how to create engaging play spaces; fun, simple activities that the whole family can enjoy; and small actions that can be taken to help get the most from playing together.

The launch of the new Play Programme is a continuation of the year-long partnership between Fisher-Price and Family Action which was launched earlier this year to help support families with early childhood development.

“You can’t underestimate the power of play… but that power is only unlocked when we don’t try to turn play into work and instead recognise children’s instinctive curiosity and playfulness,” commented Karen Woodcock, early years manager at Family Action.

As part of the launch, Fisher-Price also commissioned new research to help further its insight into the role of play in British family households with young children, and parents’ understanding of the ECD benefits of play.

The survey of 1,000 parents of children aged 0-5 showed that parents spend 1,300 hours – the equivalent of more than 54 full days – playing with their kids during their first five years, with 95 hours spent playing peek-a-boo and another 100 on hide-and-seek.

The study also found they spend an average just under 45 minutes a day playing with their child – a total of 260 hours each year. Over those first five years, 165 hours is spent on painting, drawing and creative activities, while another 185 hours are taken up with reading together. More than 187 hours are spent on imaginative play – an average of nearly 44 minutes each week.

It also emerged 67% of parents believe regular play sessions are ‘vital’ for their child’s development, with 69% citing it as important for their child’s health and happiness.

Lisa Lohiser, early childhood development expert at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, said: “The research has shown there is certainly the appetite there to help their children develop skills through play. There’s no right or wrong way to play as if you’re present and engaged with your child, you can’t go wrong. It’s a natural way to develop skills like problem solving, creativity, language and overall understanding of the world.”

Corrine Eggleston, early childhood education expert at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, added: “The top tip I’d give to any parent is to set inhibitions aside, get down to their level and be silly, talk and pretend with them. Play is natural, easy and fun; so, what better way to help your child reach their fullest potential.

“And it can also have a direct impact on their future success – for example they not only learn social and emotional skills when playing together, but when alone they’re gain independence, confidence and problem solving, all of which are necessary life skills.”

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