A new study has highlighted the importance of play to children's development and its role in raising attainment levels.
The report, conducted for the Children's Play Policy Forum, found that activity in the playground can improve behaviour, as well as academic skills and attitudes.
Published to coincide with UK Playday yesterday (August 6th), the study revealed play boosts youngsters' mental and physical health, as well as their emotional wellbeing, the BBC reports.
School playgrounds were found to be one of the best ways of increasing children's levels of physical activity, linked to a range of benefits such as enhanced academic skills, attitudes and behaviour, better social skills and adjustment to school life, and improved relations between different ethnic groups.
The report details changes that can be made to school playgrounds to increase children's physical activity, including alterations to marking, the addition of play equipment and making available games equipment (such as balls and bats).
According to some studies, children could be more physically active during free play than during sport or PE lessons.
The report states that physical activity programmes in schools can have a positive impact on cognitive performance and boost academic attainment, concentration, memory and classroom behaviour.
Play was found to be vital to the wellbeing of families, with those living near playgrounds and visiting them often reporting higher levels of family happiness.
In addition, play and youth facilities in public spaces had led to reductions in levels of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
Report author Tim Gill said: "At the core of the report is the message that not only does outdoor play impact significantly on the lives of children and young people, it also - in many cases - can provide a basis for the transformation of wider communities."
Mr Gill added that the study is important for politicians and policymakers because investing in play leads to improved education attainment levels, as well as a healthier and more tolerant society.
Community events were held throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to mark Playday 2014.
Posted by Tim Colman