The Right to Play
This Play Policy is founded on the fundamental right of children and young people to play, as recognised by:
Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that:
"Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts."
Randolph Beresford Early Excellence Centre recognises that the impact of modern society on children’s lives has significantly restricted their opportunity to play freely and has resulted in a poverty of play opportunities in the general environment.
Play is a child led agenda. It is what they want to do and what they choose to do when given the freedom, independence, time and space to determine their own behaviour. If we value our children and see them as equal citizens then we must uphold their right to play.
White City Play Project aims to provide a setting that provides children with a space in which to play. Play is critical to children’s physical and emotional well-being and is central to a healthy child’s life. It impacts on the development of both their bodies and their brains. When given the opportunity to play children are more likely to be physically active by running, jumping, dancing, climbing, digging, lifting, pushing or pulling. Through playing, children experience a wide range of emotions including frustration, determination, achievement, disappointment, confidence and upset, and through practice, can learn how to manage these. By playing with their peers, children also develop their social skills and build strong friendships, which lead to positive feelings of happiness and belonging.
Children deliberately seek out physical and emotional uncertainty in their play. From birth children are inquisitive and curious with a deeply rooted and compelling drive to explore the unknown and experiment with their surroundings. By taking risks and having adventurous play experiences children can challenge themselves, test the limitations of the environment around them, develop problem-solving skills and find creative approaches to new situations. Ultimately play influences a child’s ability to be adaptable and resilient, to cope with stressful events and therefore enables them to support their own well-being.
Play is the essence of childhood, and anything other than free access to the broadest range of opportunities for freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated play will have a detrimental effect on the development of the child. In order to support children to play we take a risk-benefit approach than encourages children to challenge themselves enabling them to develop new skills. Playworkers are on-hand to support the children in a creation of a rich play environment and to encourage children to be independent and think for themselves. In order to achieve this playworkers must choose intervention styles that support children to play and does not constrain them. Children are allowed freedom to determine the content of their play but it is imperative they respect the environment, other children and the staff.
This policy states that play is critical not only to children but for the society in which they live. We therefore believe that everyone who attends the play project has a responsibility to uphold children’s right to play whether they are involved in providing for play or by ensuring restrictions on play are avoided whenever possible. Due to the impacts of modern society we are committed to developing more high quality compensatory play spaces; however we also recognise that the freedom to play should not be constrained to these areas but should instead be promoted throughout the child’s community.
The Playwork Principles
These Principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork and as such must be regarded as a whole. They 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 and young people’s capacity for positive development will be 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 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.
(Endorsed by SkillsActive – May 2005)