Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) facilities are in a very unique position in today’s society, in terms of offering uninterrupted, child led play experiences to children from a broad age range. In Australia, 453066 children attend OSHC. On average, a child attending OSHC will be there for 11.6 hours a week (2019, National Out of School Hours Care Alliance).
Neighbourhoods used to be the playground of children, a place where children of all ages spent a large part of their time playing in groups for extended periods of time. These extended periods of uninterrupted, child led play with children of various ages provided a myriad of healthy developmental opportunities for children. Today, neighbourhood play presents a challenge to many families and with the rise of children attending OSHC services, we must look to these services to provide what has been lost in our neighbourhoods.
The benefits of good quality play experiences, in particular loose parts play, are well researched and extensive. With large numbers of children attending for significant periods of time, OSHC services have the opportunity to positively impact the developmental trajectory of many children by providing uninterrupted, child led, loose parts play experiences.
Uninterrupted, child led play using loose parts is a vehicle for implementing and achieving the principles, practices and outcomes from the My Time Our Place (MTOP) framework. MTOP is the first national framework for school aged care in Australia. MTOP is a tool for OSHC educators to help them better understand, implement, evaluate and assess meaningful play in their services. MTOP was created with the vision that “All children have the best start in life to create a better future for themselves and for the nation”.
If you want to know more about how to implement loose parts play at your OSHC service and the links from the MTOP framework to what you might see in a loose parts playground at your service, contact Jump Up Outdoors. The Jump Up Outdoors Play: Big Ideas for Big Lunch (& beyond) program supports educators to:
- understand how loose parts play fits within the MTOP framework
- advocate for loose parts play to parents, administration and funding bodies
- plan for loose parts play at their service.
Written by: Written by Madeline Avci. Mum of three young men. Occupational Therapist. Owner of Jump Up for Kids (including Jump Up Outdoors). Madeline is passionate about making the outdoors part of everyone’s day and supporting families to navigate the challenges of our modern world.