Festival of Play in Croatia: Encouraging Parental Engagement and Child Development Through Traditional and New Games

Rastimo Zajedno and the Union of Societies “Our children” Croatia have organised the Festival of Play for children and parents in six cities across Croatia during April and May 2024, with the support of The Human Safety Net.

The goal of the Festival is to remind parents of the importance of playing with their children and to encourage greater parental involvement. Joint play is crucial for deepening the parent-child relationship and fostering a well-rounded development in children.

We have often highlighted the importance of play, but to summarise succinctly, play is the most important activity for a child. It supports physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Through play, children express and affirm themselves, driving them towards new activities and helping them develop their full potential.

Parents who are supportive and attuned to their child's needs positively influence their child's social and emotional development, relationships with others, and even academic success. Children learn about themselves and the world through relationships, with the attachment bond to their parents being particularly crucial. Playing together enhances the parent-child relationship in a simple, effective, and lasting way.

At the Festival of Play across Croatia, The Human Safety Net volunteers helped the local Societies “Our children” in Varaždin, Gospić, Split, Požega, Ivanić-Grad and Jastrebarsko in organising some well-known but somewhat forgotten games for parents and children, such as "Grandpa and the Turnip", "Hokey-Pokey", and "Musical Chairs", which are not only fun but also promote teamwork and physical activity. The Festival is also introducing some new ones like "Let's Plant a Garden", a game that teaches children about gardening and the environment, and "When My Mother's/Father's Hand Guides Me, I Grow Up Without Pain", a game that fosters trust and communication between parents and children.