Children love balloons. The modest balloon is one of the only products that can change a child’s state of mind instantly. They’re colourful and always create instant smiles. Parents love balloons as they’re affordable and provide children with countless hours of entertainment.
But do balloons provide more than just entertainment value? Recent independent research, commissioned by the European Balloon and Party Council into how balloon play can support child development, highlights the benefits of balloon play for pre-school children.
This research has found evidence to suggest that balloon play has a variety of benefits for physical, cognitive, and social and emotional development for three to four-year-olds. Balloons could, therefore, be a great tool to encourage holistic development.
Balloon play was also shown to encourage physical exercise at a level comparable to playing outdoors or taking part in gym games. This suggests that it would be a useful activity for promoting exercise when children are not able to spend time outdoors or do not engage well with, or have the resources for other types of indoor active play.
Dr Amanda Gummer, Child Psychologist and Founder of Dr. Gummer’s Good Play Guide co-authored the research and concluded ‘…balloon play is a valuable way to encourage exercise in preschoolers, particularly for parents who lack time, space and/or resources for other types of active play. As well as helping children develop key physical skills, this may help to prevent obesity and related health problems, by encouraging healthy habits from a young age.’
With the Coronavirus pandemic resulting in limited outdoor play opportunities, inexpensive and accessible balloon play provides a low impact, safe and simple way of bringing joy to children and boosting both wellbeing and physical health, by creating engagement, supporting physical and cognitive development and increasing activity levels.
For parents balancing working from home with homeschooling children in isolation, frustration is inevitable, and balloon play can be part of the toolkit to help beat cabin fever and reduce screen time.
Experts have compiled an easy to use play guide for fun and educational activities with balloons for indoor activities, designed to keep kids learning, moving and entertained. Access the games here Access the pack here: www.partysafe.eu
In conjunction, look out for #CovidBalloonChallenge, a social media initiative from The Good Play Guide, asking people to ‘Pass The Balloon Not The Virus,’ where people are encouraged to take a quick video of themselves catching a balloon and then ‘passing’ it on (observing social distancing of course!).
To see the full research go to: Taylor, Gummer & Welland (2020) – ‘How balloon play can support child development’.
The EBPC are at the forefront of child safety when it comes to balloon and party products. They take their responsibility seriously and have launched a consumer-facing website to provide educational and fun materials to children, NGOs and stakeholders.
Dr Amanda Gummer
Amanda Gummer is widely considered the go-to expert on play, toys and child development, combining theoretical knowledge with a refreshingly pragmatic to family life. Her book ‘Play’ was published in 2015 and has been translated into two languages with extracts published in the USA’s Toy Industry Association’s Genius of Play initiative, for which she is an expert ambassador.
Regularly in the media, she continues to take an active role in research and is often involved in government policy around children’s issues, as a member of two child-focused All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
Amanda has been working with children and families for over 20 years and is the founder and CEO of Dr. Gummer’s Good Play Guide, the UK’s leading source of expert, independent advice on child development and play, supporting children’s industries with research, insight, and endorsement.
Follow Dr. Gummer on Twitter – @DrAmandaGummer