Every child has the right to rest, leisure, recreation and play appropriate to their age, recognised under Article 31 in the UNCRC (1989). The same Article also recognises their right to be active participants in the cultural and artistic life of their community. Article 31 provides strong support for using play-based approaches to learning in education and care settings.
Playwork is about bringing kids together and facilitating the play space, tools, and time for kids to play. The tools or types of objects that children play with are classified as Loose Parts.
Loose Parts are objects or items that you can move, manipulate and construct with, modify, meld, change while they play. Playwork provide the opportunity to line things up, take things apart and put things together all during play. This type of playing allows and celebrates different types of play, these can be solitary play, team play, imaginative play (inc pretend play) , cooperative play, A child's occupation is to play and so it's a playworkers role to provide the opportunity to play and thus cultivate and nurture their play experience.
The foundations of Playwork are child-led, without any specific goals or outcomes, creative with the use of loose parts and non-traditional toys without a single purpose or function.
The role of a playworker is to provide this safely, loosely supervise from a short distance and take snapshots about the play that happens for future generations. Sometimes playworkers might need to assist children learn the skills of mediation when children have a disagreement or can’t resolve problems themselves. Playwork is to allow space for the child to play in a way they want to and as parents we are encouraged to WAIT, WATCH & WONDER about what the child is doing in the moment.
We work on the risk/benefit model to object or environment there might be a slight risk but doing the play far outweighs the risk. For example, in some more developed play settings overseas, kids are encouraged to make timber structures and use hammers, saws, nails etc. Any parent might think, she can’t use that, she might cut her arm off, well, she probably won’t cut her arm entirely, she will probably stop as she will feel pain from the slightest nick and then require a band-aid. But to have the opportunity to build something is so rewarding. After all, it’s what us adults do every day right building houses, careers, a life? At this stage we are not providing risky play. During play we offer Gappha tape, clamps pegs clips to hold things in place.
Play is encouraged to be outdoors all year round except during really torrential rain or thunderstorms, but some light rain won’t be too detrimental. Rain yet again creates a different experience of puddles, mud, slippery slides. Kids are encouraged to be warmly dressed in good shoes.
You might think, don’t kids play anyway? Yes, they do, personally, I find the play lacking challenge, and usually not with other kids especially for kids with a disability. Sometimes their schedules are full of appointments or organised sports or activities that it doesn’t give the opportunity to play. Some parents feel that they have to keep up with societal expectations and have some organised activity every day. It can be too much, and a child can start to feel overwhelmed with the constant and unrelenting pressures to follow through with adult pressures and expectations to do what the adult wants. Sometimes the sad reality of this is that the child starts to seek approval from the adult and not from what they have achieved wholly and solely. From this constant feeling of approval stems anxiety and depression of when they are unable to meet expectations from the adults or don't feel satisfaction in their own efforts.
Because of the trend towards organised activities, we feel that we need to take an organised approach to compete with all of the other organised activities out there, Our plan is to experience loose parts play at a low cost or by donation. Specky Stars sets out to achieve the goal of reminding kids to play and be playful in their everyday life.
A a mum, I want to give my kids and all kids the best the opportunity to fully experience their childhood, to shine and look on the world with wonder and excitement.
Thanks for reading and I hope I have inspired you too. All the best!
What a typical loose parts play experience might look like. Its messy, unconventional & rewarding.
In this talk, Dr. Peter Gray compellingly brings attention to the reality that over the past 60 years in the United States there has been a gradual but, overall dramatic decline in children's freedom to play with other children, without adult direction. Over this same period, there has been a gradual but overall dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents.
Lady Allen is the foremost figure in the history of children’s play in the UK, in this video, she emphasises the important of supervised playgrounds for children with disabilities. Some of the terms used in this video are inappropriate and unacceptable in the 2020's and the video is grainy but enriching & worthwhile! Enjoy.
Here is a collection of works that inspires me about Playwork.
I hope you also enjoy them and maybe send me some of your favourite links?