Importance of play
Play is an essential part of growing up, but with the way modern education is structured, children are being given fewer chances to play. In fact, play ‘deprivation’ is increasingly recognised as a serious issue in child development.
Research has proven that play is vital for children to learn and grow, both physically and mentally. Play lets them work out their emotions, explore the world around them and discover who they are.
The principles of playwork
St George’s provides a wide variety of play activities under the guiding principles of playwork.
These principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork, describe what is unique about play and playwork and provide the playwork perspective for working with children and young people. They are based on the recognition that children’s capacity for positive development is enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities:
- All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and a social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well-being of individuals and communities
- Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons
- The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education
- For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult-led agendas
- The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play
- The playworker’s response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up-to-date knowledge of the play process and reflective practice
- Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker
- Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well-being of children.