Play is essential to children’s physical, mental and social development, health and well-being. Across all countries and cultures, children learn about themselves, the world around them and their place in it through play.

Toys can greatly enrich play and they help children to develop. They fire the imagination, laying the foundation for improving cognitive and motor skills. They also help teach the importance of sharing, cooperating and communicating.

Toys are constantly evolving, reflecting our culture and our lifestyles. Manufacturers draw inspiration from the rapidly changing world, creating toys that help children use their imagination to understand and relate to their environment.

Play is a right. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises play as a fundamental human need like food and shelter. Regrettably, this is not always reflected in society.

Towns are not designed to stimulate free outside play. Education curricula often put too much emphasis on schoolbook education rather than free and more creative ways of learning, especially for younger children. Today’s busy parents create hobby schedules for children resulting in less time for spontaneous play and creativity.

Find out more about our work to promote the importance of play in Europe

Research shows that early and diversified play encourages language, reading and writing skills. A child growing up in an environment that encourages play will be better adjusted socially and more cooperative than one that is not.