The Play team’s top tips for parents


Need some day-to-day, practical advice for supporting your children through self-isolation? Look no further!  

The Power of Play 

Social distancing is tough on us all. Family life has been sent topsy-turvy and balancing everything in this new normal can feel impossible. 

But play is the perfect way to break out of that uncertainty and find a way for the whole family to come together, through creativity and communication. 

The Play team at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) knows this because they’ve helped hundreds of thousands of seriously ill children, including those in isolation, deal with their treatment and recovery through play.  

Top tips 

There’s all manner of suggestions and support across our Power of Play hub, but here the Play team have distilled their key advice – to help all children and families cope with today's challenges. 

Look at the resources you have and be creative with how you use them to play. 

Whether it’s bottle tops or leaves, pots, pans or paint, almost anything can be turned into a tool for play if you get creative. Just clean everything thoroughly before use and you’re good to go.  

Design a play plan that works for your family. 

Every child and every family’s circumstances are different. Work together to create a play plan that takes into account what’s feasible for you – keep your plans simple. 

Plan different types of play to keep it interesting!  

Mix it up with messy, imaginative, sensory and physical play, as well as story time. 

Plan connective moments where you can talk to friends and family remotely and virtually, like doing a ‘show and tell’ to the extended family. 

For many of us, the current lockdown has been a crash course in using video chat tech like Skype and Zoom, but it’s proving to be an invaluable way of keeping in touch with those we care about.  

Try and get used to a bit of mess, because messy play is great for getting those frustrations out. 

Whether you’re cooking up a storm or making a racket, play that breaks out from everyday norms – by making a mess or a lot of noise – can be a brilliant mood booster for everyone. 

Embrace these new ways of being together.  

We’re all facing our own challenges right now, and it’s never been more valuable to take a moment to appreciate what we have and who we’re with! Play is a great way for everyone to make a normal day special. 

You don’t have to play all the time – it’s okay to have spaces in the day to just be, like a quiet time for reading or playing alone for a while. 

Bookending activities with quiet, focused down time is hugely important to keeping everyone happy. Schedules can be built around natural lulls and busy moments in the day but shouldn’t be forced. 

Play has an impact on all areas of learning, so it’s a perfect way to support your children when they can’t go to school. 

Finding the motivation and focus to get schoolwork done can be tricky under lockdown situations, so using play as a tool for this is a great way to help. Check out resources from Girlguiding and The Dyson Foundation for more ideas to support your child’s learning. 

Make sure you’re caring for yourself as well as your children. You’re not alone in this! Reaching out to family or friends who are in a similar position can really help at difficult times. 

This is critical. Nobody knows what the coming weeks and months will be like, so talking through your experiences – and letting off steam in whichever way suits – is so important to our individual and collective health. 

Find more top tips and activities on our Power of Play hub!

Browse A-Z