Parents Play, Too!

Our programs encourage families to join in and experience the magic of learning through play. 

Play is one of the most effective ways for children to learn. It engages them in their lessons and it develops a life-long curiosity about the world around them. 

We use play inside and outside the classroom in our programs in more than 18 countries, from Canada and Tanzania to Thailand and Jordan. In many parts of the world, children face social and cultural pressures that curtail their right to a quality education. Trained in our play-based, child-centered learning approach, Right To Play teachers and coaches use play to tackle barriers, like overcrowded classrooms and gender equality that stand in the way of children's education. 

We use play-based activities to shine a light
on topics like, 
child marriage,
gender-based violence and child labour.

It's why we reach out to and connect with their parents and families. Communicating with parents and families about the benefits of education is crucial. Their engagement and support is critical in ensuring that their children go to school. To build this support we invite them to actively participate in various play scenarios with their children. 

The aim is to facilitate conversations that allow their children to share their concerns and communicate the challenges they face in accessing and remaining in school. These interactions, in a non-threatening, informal play setting not only allows parents to bond with their children, it also helps them overcome barriers and misconceptions that might have prevented them from prioritizing their children's education.

In our programs across Africa - in Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania, involving parents and caregivers is a key feature of our play-based activities. We use special community events called Play Days to bring kids, parents and community elders together to explore issues like the importance of education, the inclusion of girls and the protection of all children. By participating in our games and activities, we're able to raise awareness about core issues around acceptance, conflict resolution and collaboration, and have inclusive discussions about how these challenges can be overcome.

In Tanzania, Right To Play staff have facilitated Mothers' Groups which encourage and empower mothers to support and advocate for the education of their daughters, by showing them the value of equipping their children with skills like reading, writing, numeracy and critical thinking.

In Benin, working alongside community champions and leaders to engage parents and family members, we've been able to tackle religious beliefs and cultural practices that are deterrents to sending children to school and highlight the importance of a quality education.

Family plays a vital role in a child's education and well-being.With the support of the children's parents, our programs help to break the cycle
that keeps kids out of school.

In our programs in China, our coaches have seen many parents pay an increasing amount of attention purely to the academic performance of their kids, to the detriment of their physical, social and emotional development. With partners like Disney and Nike, we have created programs that engage kids and parents in activities that focus on providing children with a more diverse, active and engaged learning experience.

Activities like Imagination Playground help with this. Parents collaborate with their kids to construct imaginary scenes with 'block toys', stimulating creativity and imagination, while improving communication between parent and child. In another after-school program, children and parents get active by playing a variety of games together, giving them an opportunity to cooperate on physical tasks and encouraging their children's holistic development.

The same principles are incorporated into our PLAY program that work with Indigenous communities across Canada, where Family Day events are organized to ensure that the benefits of play are shared with adults too.

"I felt that we bring a lot of kids out of their comfort zone, so why not do that with the adults too and show them how the youth feel every day when they come to the program."
-PLAY program, Community Mentor, Phillip Clayton

Incorporating a variety of activities, like cooking, arts and crafts, or sport, the focus of these events is on teamwork and understanding across generations, helping to build stronger family and community bonds. Our programs aim to engage parents and family members because of the vital role they play in ensuring learning continues at home.

By making play an all-in-the-family initiative, parents and families take on the responsibility of encouraging and enabling the next generation of leaders.

Cover photograph by Terence Babb