Growing up and facing the ‘real world’, as they call it, can be tough to navigate for everyone. But the ‘real world’ can be made a lot less scary when we allow children to experience independence at a young age as well as allowing them to develop friendships organically. At School of Play, fostering child-initiated play and learning is a method of development we have been focusing on recently, within all our services. To learn more on this subject, take a quick read of our first blog: We believe in empowering children to take charge of their holiday camp experiences, allowing them to explore, create, and grow in a supportive environment. One of the ways we encourage this is through our Buddy Programme, a unique initiative designed to welcome new children into our camps while promoting independence and friendship. The Buddy Programme pairs a seasoned holiday camper with a newcomer, assigning them the role of a mentor and guide on the new child’s first day. This simple yet effective approach aligns seamlessly with our campaign goal of encouraging child-initiated play in several ways. How the program uses Child-Initiated Play. First and foremost, the Buddy Programme puts children in the driver’s seat of their own experiences from day one. By entrusting them with the responsibility of welcoming and assisting a peer, we empower them to take ownership of their social interactions and build confidence in their ability to navigate new situations independently. As we get older, and especially in the age of technology where the ‘real world’ and the ‘online world’ are becoming indistinct, building these bonds and connections with new people can become a lot harder which is why we need to encourage independence at a young age for their social development. That doesn’t mean to say they’re completely on their own in this journey. Adult guidance is sometimes necessary, like asking a friend for help as we grow older, and our team are always there to answer questions, guide their instruction and be a listening ear when needed. Furthermore, by allowing children to lead the welcoming process, we create authentic opportunities for connection and friendship to flourish. As buddies engage in activities together, share experiences, and support each other, they form bonds that extend into the days/weeks of their camp experience. The importance of this program. In essence, our Buddy Programme aids in the forming of meaningful connections and daunting as it can be for a child, provides the opportunity for them to explore their independence but with a little help from a potential new friend along the way. Through this initiative, we had many successful outcomes, new friendships blossomed and a long line of strong, independent young minds! Join us at School of Play, where every child’s journey begins with a friend by their side.