How can I help address inequalities and support children's play for 3-5s?

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Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers

Those who care for children can be encourage to support play in 3-5s through promotion of the following key messages:

  • For a wealth of fun, low-or no-cost play activities, plus expert tips and advice, parents and carers can consult 'play@home toddler' (12 months to 3 years) and ‘play@home pre-school’.
  • If they have not received the play@home books, they should contact their health visitor. Lending copies are available from local libraries.

If they are having difficulties or are worried about their child's growth and development, encourage them to seek help early by contacting their midwife, health visitor or GP.

For information and details of local support, visit Parenting Across Scotland (external link) or call ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233.

Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

Please also see below for further resources.

Pre-school staff and childminders

  • Ensure that families have received their copy of the 'play@home pre-school' book.
  • Due to phased roll-out of play@home, some families may not have been eligible to receive the play@home books - remind parents that local libraries have copies.
  • Align at least some activities with those in the 'play@home pre-school book' to help children and parents get the most from them.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.
  • At handover, tell parents which play activities their children have been engaging in.
  • Take care to equally engage and inform fathers and male carers.
  • Be aware of guidance and recommendations for learning through active play given in relation to The Curriculum for Excellence for the Early Years (external link).

Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

Read about the benefits of active play in our sections on physical activity and child healthy weight.

Please also see below for further resources.

Health visitors and social workers

Research has shown that parents value very highly the trusting, respectful and communicative relationships that Health Visitors and Social Workers are ideally placed to develop with them.

They can help support growth and development through play in the following ways:

  • Emphasise the value of play to all parents and carers in supporting physical health and healthy growth and development.
  • Ensure that families receive copies of the 'play@home pre-school' book.
  • Due to phased roll-out of play@home, some families may not have been eligible to receive the play@home books - remind parents that local libraries have copies.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.
  • Help create and maintain positive home learning environments - see further advice in our section speech, language and communication development.
  • Observe good 'Inclusive Communication Practice' as set out in Principles of Inclusive Communication - A self-assessment tool for public authorities.
  • Use the 'Teach-Back Technique' to help ensure important information has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb).
  • Ensure that fathers are equally consulted and informed in matters concerning the health, development and wellbeing of their children (except where precluded by child protection concerns).

For information and advice on promoting the benefits of active play, please see our sections on physical activity and child healthy weight.

Please also see the advice given below for GPs and practice nurses.

Service managers and commissioners

Service managers and commissioners can help to create opportunities for play by incorporating play spaces and time for play into their services and service environments.

The can also consider enrolling staff for a play@home trainer session.

GPs and practice nurses

Professionals working in general practice are the most preferred and trusted source of health information for parents. They can help support growth and development through play in the following ways:

  • Emphasise the value of play to all parents and carers in supporting physical health and healthy growth and development.
  • Check that families have received copies of the 'play@home pre-school' book.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.
  • See advice and links to specific guidance given above for public health nurses, health visitors and social workers.
  • Make sure you have access to a range of take-away parent information resources in a variety of formats.
  • Refer onwards or encourage parents to seek further help early if problems are suspected and be ready with details of supportive organisations and services.
  • Ensure that fathers are equally consulted and informed in matters concerning the health, development and wellbeing of their children (except where precluded by child protection concerns).

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Voluntary sector workers and managers

Voluntary sector agencies can:

  • Emphasise the value of play to all parents and carers in supporting physical health and healthy growth and development.
  • Provide opportunities for play by incorporating play spaces and time for play wherever possible.
  • Check that families have received copies of the 'play@home pre-school' books and if not refer them to their Health Visitor. Local libraries also have copies.
  • Consider enrolling for a play@home trainer session.

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