role and value of play

Topics: Play, Childhood, Child development Pages: 5 (1740 words) Published: May 13, 2014
The role and value of play
All children and young people need to play. Children's play is behavior which is freely chosen, self-motivated and personally directed, and the impulse to play is in all of us. Through play the child explores the world and its creative potential, discovering all the while, a flexible range of responses to the challenges, she or he encounters. By playing, the child learns and develops as an individual and as a member of the community – be it at home, the street and area they live in, their school or a holiday play scheme. As such, play is a right, recognised in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 31. Play is essential for children's physical, emotional and psychological growth, as well as their intellectual, creative and educational development. When children play they build up a sense of identity, self-respect, confidence and their own self-worth. Through playing with others, children build a resource of behavioural techniques to help them navigate complex social worlds including younger children not to feel intimidated by older children. The contemporary environment in which many children grow up is not designed with them in mind, and at times and in some areas provides limited opportunities for safe and creative play. Increasing traffic due to continuous property development, parental fears of strangers and lack of open spaces all restrict children's play outdoors, but by providing and protecting play-rich environments for children we can counteract these limitations.

Much has been written on the subject of play and there is visibility in legislation and guidance for professionals: - Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, has said that “play is anything that spontaneously is done for its own sake…appears purposeless, produces pleasure and joy, leads one to the next stage of mastery” (as cited in Tippett, July 2008; italics added). - Edward Miller and Joan Almon describe play as “activities that are freely chosen and directed by children and arise from intrinsic motivation” (2009, p15). - Jeannine Ouellette refers to play as “activity that is unencumbered by adult direction, and does not depend on manufactured items or rules imposed by someone other than the kids themselves” (Ouellette, 2007, para13). - “The main characteristic of play - child or adult - is not its content, but its mode. Play is an approach to action, not a form of activity.” Jerome Bruner, quoted in Moyles (1989)

- “From an early age, play is important to a child's development and learning. It isn't just physical. It can involve cognitive, imaginative, creative, emotional and social aspects. It is the main way most children express their impulse to explore, experiment and understand. Children of all ages play.” (Dobson, 2004, p8)

In June 2010 the coalition government set up a Childhood and families taskforce, Nick Clegg, Deputy prime minister said in his opening speech, “For too many British children, childhood has become a time of stress, anxiety and insecurity, when it should be a time of discovery, learning and adventure. My purpose in politics – and the job of this coalition government – is to change that, to live up to our responsibility and lay the foundations for better lives for our children.” At the launch of the revised EYFS, published March 2012, following the Tickell review, we were once again reminded that “play is essential for children’s development.”

When children play, they are actively engaged in activities they have freely chosen; that is, they are self-directed and motivated from within. “Best Play” starts with a definition of play and with a set of values and principles. Both the definition and the values and principles are well recognised within the play work profession, (though they can be expressed in slightly different ways, for instance they can be found in the National Occupational Standards for National Vocational Qualifications in Play...

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Manning, K. & Sharp. A. (1977).
Moyles, J. (1989).
Project Zero. (2001).
Siraj-Blatchford, I. et al. (2002).
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