Right to Play

December 19, 2019

Children are "active in the construction and determination of their own social lives" - (Prout and James 1997).

This has implications for playwork and the development of better play provision. The voice of the child, their opinions and reactions, should be taken into account to the maximum degree consistent with health, safety and respect for the needs of others.

Access to rich, stimulating environments

There is a poverty of play opportunities in the general environment and it is the responsibility of the community to ensure that all children have access to rich, stimulating play environments that are free from unacceptable risk thereby offering children the opportunity to explore both themselves and the world.

Freedom to play

Many pressures increasingly dominate the lives of children in the UK. Public fears about safety, including the threat from traffic and from other people, lead many parents to restrict their children’s freedom to play and get around on their own. We need to work tirelessly to preserve children’s freedom to play.

Respect for children

Children should feel confident that adults involved in play welcome and value them as individuals.

Children’s abilities

The child’s control of their own play activity is a crucial factor in enriching their experience and enhancing learning and development. Adults need to recognise that play is something children do very well on their own.

Play for its own sake

As the definition states, play is intrinsically motivated. Hence there should be no task or product required of the play by those not engaged in it. Adults however may need to support children in creating and determining their own goals and outcomes.

The importance of risk

Play is a key element in children learning to appreciate, assess and take calculated risks, which is fundamental to the development of confidence and abilities in childhood. Children seek out opportunities for risk taking and it is the responsibility of play provision to respond with exciting and stimulating environments that balance risks appropriately.

The adult role in play

Although children may play without encouragement or help, adults can significantly enhance the opportunities for a child to play creatively through the provision of an appropriate environment.

Adult responsiveness

Children can sometimes unleash powerful feelings, in themselves or companions, through play, often having valuable cathartic or therapeutic effects. Children are entitled to expect that adults involved in play provision will understand and be responsive to cues that they may be in need of comfort or reassurance as a result of their play.