There are varying definitions of play. Due to the non-conform and unique nature of play I find the Scottish Government’s definition useful.The quotation above perhaps encapsulates how play should be experienced for a child, where the long term benefits to healthy, frequent play are unconsciously gained and play is purely for fun.
These images encapsulate a ‘snippet’ of what play can look like – from 1:1 interaction, educational and exploratory structured messy play to imaginative solitary play with a cardboard box. Also, it is important to note that play continues along the developmental trajectory and critical periods where play is an essential component of development. Play begins from birth and continues…. Adults do play! When I was training school staff in Nottingham during the implementation of a facilitated play project, we brainstormed how adults ‘play’ …. Books and movies are imaginary escapism, football, board games, dancing, chess – the list was lengthy! Additionally it is important that children are able to play across all of their accessed contexts – the home and family setting, the educational setting (nursery and school) and the community.
‘Play Scotland’ – National resource to encourage universal promotion of quality play. National Initiatives and campaigns such as Play. Talk. Read campaign The Action plan for the Play Strategy, only just published, states numerous actions such as increasing universal resources and guidance on cost effective play materials for parents and careers, an audit on community facilities and access to appropriate play resources, increasing training on play for professional workforce.
Parents who have not played themselves… Such as parents who were previously LAC, young parents who may lack confidence, parents who may have learning difficulties, mental health difficulties.Facilitated play can also be used in a universal capacity to enhance a parents ability to engage and support their child in play and is not purely reserved for intervention purposes.
The importance of play - Siobhain McIntosh
The importance of Play…
Clinical Associate of Applied Psychology
(Children and Young People)
‘Play’ - What is it?
‘Play comes in many forms. It can be
active, passive, solitary, independent,
assisted, social, exploratory, educational
or just for fun. Moreover, it can happen
indoors or outdoors, it can be structured,
creative, messy, entirely facilitated by the
imagination or can involve using the
From: Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision
(Scottish Government, 2013)
'A physical or mental leisure activity that
is undertaken purely for enjoyment or
amusement and has no other objective‘
From: Play: A Definition
(Play Therapy United Kingdom, 2013)
A child’s right to play the protection of play
• The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ‘Article 31
(Leisure, play and culture): Children have the right to relax and
play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other
(United Nations, 2012)
• Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Action Plan
(Scottish Government, 2013)
• National Parenting Strategy (Scottish Government, 2012)
• Children and Young People Bill (Scottish Parliament, 2013)
• ‘Making the Child’s Right to Play a reality in Scotland’
Petition (Scottish Parliament, 2012)
A child by child approach to determining need ….
Universal Play, Promoting Play and Therapeutic Play
Play is a universal right for children –
however, in circumstances when this has not
been the case then play can become a
Facilitated Play as an Intervention….
• Parent/professional collaborations – psychoeducation for parents, enabling them to develop skills to encourage
play in their children. Ensuring that parents understand the WHY behind facilitated play and are supported
• Various structured evidence based approaches – Theraplay, Incredible Years. There are also varying tools that
can measure the outcomes of the intervention (VIP play profile, non standardised questionnaires, psychometrics)
-Early Intervention (across the developmental lifespan) –Working with families, caregivers and a child’s system to
ensure a holistic, consistent approach –Focus on nurturing (praise, secure attachments, positive and safe touch) –
Engagement –Empowering the child and the parent –Encouraging structure and consistency – Modelling by
professionals –Focussing on encouraging positive child-directed play
- Promoting descriptive
commenting throughout play (academic, persistence, social and emotional ‘coaching’)
These approaches can be adapted and used indiscriminately across various challenges encountered by children and
their families from a lack of confidence and security (e.g. from an extended stay in hospital) to complex cases of
trauma and abuse.