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In 2019, the WEF concluded that “we must equip our children with the tools to address and embrace the new realities of tomorrow. To do this, we must allow them to develop through play. Fewer play moments mean fewer opportunities to develop the skills children need to thrive in the dynamic, challenging economies of tomorrow.” Early childhood services are driven primarily by academic learning and do not reflect this need for children to develop through play. This is most pertinent for children with special needs and social and emotional challenges or affected by trauma and poverty, if parents do not get support to help them develop resilient neurobiology and the key skills for a positive future. This extends to all children whose lives have been impacted by the recent Covid-19 outbreak. As a recent UN report stated, while children were not the face of the pandemic they risk being some of its biggest victims. The measures of lockdown could do more harm than good with potential lifelong impact. The Early Childhood services across the region need skills to support all vulnerable children reach their potential and the adults supporting these children need access to best practice as soon as possible.
Developmental Play is an innovative paradigm bringing best global practice to the bottom of the pyramid. The approach was born out of a desire to provide a simple, accessible approach that synthesises best practice from across different disciplines for the children who need it most. It offers a scalable and affordable model that builds capacity among the adults who look after children most at risk. Through its online academy and virtual consultants it can support early childhood workers in health, education and community settings to build capacity to support children through play. The academy (www.createcatt-academy.com) provides short courses as well as a three-level online course endorsed by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. Developmental Play provides tried-and-tested training that brings together expertise from education, developmental psychology, occupational therapy and play therapy, and provides adults, teachers, clinicians, parents and care-givers with the skills they need to support children. Two pilot programmes are running in India and the Philippines, where 80 Certified Developmental Play Practitioners are rolling out the model as part of an expanding Developmental Play Community. For more information, see Caroline Essame (2020) Developmental Play: A new approach to understanding how all children learn through play, Childhood Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2020.1707531