The Parents' Guide


Encouraging Play


How my mother prevented me from playing

Play was a big part of my childhood, and I would call it my first love, though it always ended in tears. Tears because my mother punished me each time I went out to play. In her view, staying indoors meant staying out of trouble and being a good child. My mother was even more upset because children in the slums, where I grew up, were more aggressive. I got hurt most of the time I played. The idea that play was an enemy of effective child development was drummed into my ears.

Learning through Play

My mother, like many other parents, did not understand how play could encourage learning.


Play is important to the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children. It is through play that children at a very early age understand the world around them.

Play teaches skills and abilities. As children play, they learn new skills, such as problem solving skills, ability to think flexibly, controlling their emotions and facing their fears.

So if you are worried that play prevents your children from getting their schoolwork done, [please know that play is the best way for children to learn.

My playful childhood has developed many life skills in me. In fact, I learned how to count through playing hide- and-go- seek with the neighbourhood kids.


Spend time playing games with your child. You do not need to buy expensive games for your child to play with.



Some simple indoor games from UNICEF:

Babies 0-9 monthsPeek-a-boo!

All you need to play this game is your hands and a sweet voice. Sit with your baby, raise your hands (or a piece of cloth) to cover your face, then remove them and say “peek-a-boo!” Your little one will delight at watching you disappear and reappear. As your baby gets older, she will start playing back with you.



Toddlers 1-2 yearsBox car

Find an empty box/carton and place your child in it safely with some soft blankets to keep her comfortable. Then, pull the box around while making car noises: “vroom vroom!” She will have fun moving around the house in her box. If space is limited, you can still have the same effect by moving the box from side to side and making noises together.



Pre-school children 3-4 yearsName that noiseMake different animal noises and have your child guess which animal you’re pretending to be. Encourage taking turns and let him make some noises too while you guess. This is a great opportunity to teach him more about the animals you each choose, too.



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