@ Vikas Sharma | Sr Journalist
New Delhi : Sesame Workshop India Trust and The LEGO Foundation marked the celebration of the World Play Day by hosting the Play Conference in Delhi. The conference was aimed at shedding light on how parent-child play is linked with boosting creativity, learning and development of children aged 3-8 years.
Sesame Workshop implemented Play Every Day, a program designed to help vulnerable communities in India, South Africa and Mexico to challenge caregiver misperceptions such as “play is a waste of time” and “kids need expensive toys to play to boost their creativity”, and to establish that “guided play leads to improved child’s learning and development”. The intervention was implemented in India across 9 communities of Delhi with support from The LEGO Foundation.
Joining the event, Ms. Mythili Bector, OSD, Primary School Education, Directorate of Education, Government of NCT Delhi was the keynote speaker.The conference highlighted the design of the play-led intervention and showcased the impact evaluation of the program conducted by D3 Systems, a global social science research organization.
The program was implemented over 2 years, reaching 2,500 families in batches, with a 12-week intervention in low-resource communities. The intervention included play workshops with caregivers and children, community events like play fairs, street plays and videos on WhatsApp and social media platforms. The research evaluation of the intervention found improvements in social development, creativity and other learning outcomes of the children while also shifting the perceptions of parents and caregivers about play and its role in promoting learning and development outcomes.
Children evaluated as part of the program also showed a shift in creativity by almost 33%, for using recyclable items including plastic bottle, cans and cardboard to build or create something with them.
Caregivers evaluated as part of the program showed increased understanding of connections between play and academic success, social development and higher creativity in the following ways:
• 14% more parents link play with children’s development
• 24% more parents link play with academic benefits for children
• Increased confidence by 24% in using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, cans, and cardboard rolls as play objects.
In addition, Sesame Workshop India also addressed 3 key aspects at this conference through panel discussions on the following subjects:
• Transforming evidence into experience: There is significant evidence and research establishing the benefits of play in children’s overall development. The panel focused on how these evidences have been used to create effective programs impacting children’s social -emotional and cognitive skills.
• Sharing voices from the communities: The panel shed light on the importance of community engagement and role it can play in enabling culturally relevant learning through play; and how it can reform practices around parental engagement and gender roles norms.
• Investing in play-based research and programming: The panel focused on gathering insights that inform the field for play based learning and drive the donor community to invest in programming around play.
“The LEGO Foundation is working to build a future in which learning through play helps all children grow into creative, engaged, life-long learners. Parents and other primary caregivers are fundamental to this aim as they are children’s first teachers and playmates. We hope that the insights provided by the Play Every Day program will help inspire and empower primary caregivers to harness the power of learning through play” said Diego Adame, Initiatives Lead, Learning through Play in Early Childhood, The LEGO Foundation.
Commenting on the success of the Play Every Day program, Sonali Khan, Managing Director at Sesame Workshop India said “Our findings show how the intervention has been able to shift the attitude of caregivers towards play, boost creativity of the children significantly, which also impacts their skills like communication and problem solving. It’s encouraging to hear from caregivers that they now make sure they take out time to play with their children because they can clearly see the value in it. In fact, the new evidence points out the higher need for such parent-led interventions.”
The Play Conference not only showcased how caregivers were empowered to leverage play in support of children’s early development and lifelong learning, but also the best practices to promote play as part of the daily lives of children and caregivers. For more insight on the evaluated intervention, visit the link: https://www.sesameworkshop.org/sites/default/files/2019-05/ped_evaluation_findings_may_2019.pdf