Preschoolers took charge at family festival celebrating free play

SINGAPORE - Preschoolers got to take the lead and create their own mosaic tiles with their families at Back to Play!, a learning initiative which aims to demonstrate the value of open-ended play experiences for young children at Tampines Central Community Club this afternoon.

Co-organised by Little Captains at Play and Tampines GRC's Learning Tampines in partnership with Playeum, families with children, aged between three to six, participated in various unstructured play activities such as visual arts, children's maze and messy play.

Minister of Education Heng Sweet Keat and other advisers to Tampines Grassroots Organisations (GROs) Mah Bow Tan, Irene Ng, Baey Yam Keng and Senior Minister of State Mr Masagos Zulkifli, also joined in the fun and participated with the children to make the craft tiles to form a 3D PLAY! Mosaic, the centrepiece of the event.

To help raise awareness about the benefits of unstructured play, a talk was also conducted for the parents with guest speakers such as Dr Christine Chen, President of the Association for Early Childhood Educators (Singapore), Playeum co-founder Sumitra Pasupathy; arts education consultant Esther Joosa, and parent Lim Hai Yen.

Parents were given a chance to show their commitment to give their children more unstructured playtime by making a pledge on the "Let Us Play!" handprint wall.

Around 150 pledges have been collected online so far.

Tan Xiang Wei from Little Captains at Play! said, "Through Back to Play!, we hope to showcase and support the need for a good balance of structured and unstructured play experiences among preschoolers."

This is Tampines district's first-ever play festival which aims to bridge the gap between play and learning.

Launched in December last year, the Little Captains at Play is a campaign advocating for more unstructured play opportunities among preschoolers, and to bring together like-minded advocates from the community to push for a more balanced early childhood through play.