Article 31 and the Importance of Play.

Play is an essential part of every child’s life and throughout most of the history; kids have spent hour after hour playing. I read somewhere that a child have played 15000 hours during the first 6 years of his life.

Play is instinctive and not just for human children – all young mammals play. This shows how important it is to development.

Play ensures the maximum potential development of every child and play stimulates creativity, fantasy and is important to the emotional, cognitive, physical development of the whole child and is crucial for the development of the brain structure.

Through play children can explore their world, practice adult roles and play also improves children’s social skills by helping them to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts.

In play children learn the skills that are essential to lifeskills that cannot be taught in a more formal, structured environments.

In every way, play is a practice for life.

Play is so important to optimal development of a child that it has an article (31) of its own in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 31

  1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.


General Comment on Article 31

The UN General Comment on article 31(General Comment 17) was adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Friday 1st February 2013.

The purpose of a general comment is to widen and deepen understanding of a particular aspect of the Convention and to reflect the changing conditions under which children grow up. The General Comment is an official document that clarifies for the governments worldwide the meaning and importance of article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and clearly defines the responsibilities of governments that have signed the Convention . The General Comment will provide guidance to the States Parties and raise awareness of the importance of play in the everyday lives of children worldwide.

This general comment puts the spotlight on article 31 and provides ammunition to revisit and advocate for the child’s right to play.

The General comment was produced to address the concerns the Committee had over the poor recognition given by States to art.31 based on the reviews of the implementation of the UNCRC. International Play Association IPA took a lead role in the development of the General Comment.

Click on the link and read the whole General Comment

IPA is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 in Copenhagen and its purpose is to protect, preserve and promote children’s right to play as a fundamental human right, according to the Article 31 of the UNCRC

IPA has national organizations in many countries both in Europe and outside of Europe. IPA member groups initiate a wide variety of projects that promote the child’s right to play like seminars, conferences, research, publications and Play Days.

Click on the link to visit IPA website

Play is a fundamental right and a very important part of a children’s life.

Play is the work of children.








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