This chapter proposes that play is fundamental to the holistic development of children and that it is the right of all children to grow through play opportunities. In developing this proposition, ideas and examples are presented which show that wellbeing in children can be fostered through play. The chapter provides information by experts, such as Laevers (1994; Laevers & Heylen, 2004), with his international scale on wellbeing included. This scale is used in many Australian child care contexts (Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), 2009). Other important elements of play central to children's wellbeing are presented with timely examples of how play contexts give children opportunities to grow and play in healthy, self-regulated, confident ways. Some concerns relating to play have come under scrutiny recently and these are examined. These include issues relating to the possible overuse of touch screen devices and the fact that many young children are spending too many hours on mobile gadgets (Ebbeck et al., 2016). The commercialisation of play is a concern raised by professionals (e.g. Cook, 2013) as they see the huge impact that advertising and film exposure has on the play of children. Other useful content is included about technological toys, war play, and safety criteria for selecting toys and equipment.
Policy Development: Wellbeing in Young Children
The wellbeing of young children has come into sharp focus in the last decade. This is a positive trend, and it is encouraging to see this reflected in curriculum frameworks for early childhood. For example, Belonging, Being and Becoming, the Early Years Learning Framework in Australia has, as one of the five developmental learning outcomes, Children have a strong sense of wellbeing as being necessary for early childhood teachers to assess in their work with children (DEEWR, 2009).
Play is seen as the universal right of all children. Policy curriculum statements in some countries are also making provision for the wellbeing of children in their stated policies and, hopefully, practices. An example is seen in the Scottish curriculum document entitled Building the Ambition, which states that ‘as the child's key worker, everything you (educators) do for young children should promote, support and safeguard their wellbeing’ (The Scottish Government, 2014, p. 15).