Children’s Play and the Playwork Environment

1 January 2017

The first assumption is that: children’s play is freely chosen, personally directed behaviour, motivated from within; through play, the child explores the world and her or his relationship with it, elaborating 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”. [Playwork Level 3 Penny Tassoni] There has been less focus on playing for playing sake and how this is fundamentally important for children so they have the choice to learn to take risks, to find things out for themselves and to have fun.

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Evolutionary playwork and reflective analytic Bob Hughes] Play and play opportunities can benefit the development of children in many ways. Children learn through social interaction. The correct play setting can provide limitless opportunities for development in a fun and safe environment. By allowing the children to be involved in as many aspects as possible of the running of the club, we can provide them with such opportunities.

An example is allowing children to choose what games they play. This helps children to understand freedom of choice, the need for rules and respect for rules. It also encourages interaction with other children, play workers and the play environment. Children of different age groups and abilities require different forms of activities as they are at different stages development. Younger children between the ages of 5 and 8 tend to enjoy the attention of play workers more. They have reassurance that they are acting correctly and feel safer with some form of adult presence.

Children of this age sometimes need a play cue or some coaxing or encouragement to interact with others. This social interaction is very important and provides the foundation skills necessary for concepts such as sharing, cooperation, loyalty and consideration for others. Older children require different forms of stimulation for development. For example, an older child playing on a swing does not need someone to push him or her, and this non requirement for assistance in turn makes the child feel more independent. It helps to build confidence which in turn aids self expression.

A simple card game like pairs demonstrates how different age groups benefit from play differently. Pairs helps memory improvement through all age groups. The younger children benefit by mastering simple skills like possibilities and identifying shapes and numbers. Children aged between 9 and 11 would have mastered such skills and tend to play such a game more competitively. This encourages faster physical reactions and responding to the actions of others. Children aged between 12 and 15 tend to find this game very easy but can benefit by playing with younger children as they pass their knowledge and skills down.

It teaches them to support younger ones and help in their development; it also helps the older child’s confidence, self-esteem and self-reliance. “Play should empower children, affirm and support their right to make choices, discover their own solution, to play and develop at their own pace and in their own way”. [Playwork Level 3 Penny Tassoni] We offer a large range of creative activities from painting, to music, to drama, because the children enjoy using their imagination to express their feelings and emotions. This helps them develop hand to eye coordination, motor and manipulative skills, locomotive skills and general coordination.

The second assumption is that whereas children may play without encouragement or help, adults can, through the provision of an appropriate human and physical environment significantly enhance opportunities for the child play creatively and thus develop through play”. [Playwork level 3 Penny Tassoni] Children choose to play by themselves and some children need to be encouraged because they are learning to be independent. Having the children understands and identifies their emotions and showing others their feelings helps the child to identify other children emotions and reactions. This helps the child to become more confident and independent.

So the children feel able to approach others and understand individual behaviour and feelings. E3 Describe the features of a child centred play environment “Play should offer the child opportunities to extend her or his exploration and understanding of the wider world and therefore physical, social and cultural settings beyond their immediate experience”. [Playwork level 3 Penny Tassoni] “Young children construct understandings of gender during the preschool years. They accurately apply common gender stereotypes to toys by the time they are three and readily predict their parents’ opinions about gender-typical and cross-gender play.

This study involved 3- and 5-year-old children in identifying “girl toys” and “boy toys”. It also asked them to predict their parents’ reactions to their choices of gender-specific toys. These children’s parents were surveyed in an effort to describe their preferences about gender-specific toys and behaviours. Responses indicated that, in spite of evidence that many of these parents reject common gender stereotypes, their children predicted parents would consistently apply these stereotypes as reflected by their approval or disapproval of children’s choices to play with gender stereotyped or cross-gender toys.

The mis-match between parents’ self-described beliefs and children’s perceptions of the messages they have received about genderized play are discussed”. [Early childhood education journal April 2007, Nancy Freeman] A child centred play environment is a place where children feel safe and can play without fear of other children and adults. It is a place where children can test themselves with new challenges, explore, experiment, take risks and find opportunities. The space should be colourful and friendly so the children feel comfortable to move around freely.

The children have a place to display their art work and write their comments so they can express their feelings about their space and what they want in their setting, activities and new games. We move all the games and tables around the space to give the children more movement and change the feeling of the surroundings. We have outside space so the children can play different games like football, tennis and basket ball and we also have trees so the children can play hide and seek and play with the natural environment. We also have a garden so the children can learn about plants and insects and do some gardening.

Having a play space specially designed for children, with disabled access and children friendly is very important because you want all the children to feel safe and meet all the children’s needs. The play space has toilets designed for children and disabled toilets so the children feel confident to go without an adult. Tables and chairs should be the right size so the children can reach everything. It can be dangerous if the child is using the wrong size table and chair because the child can fall off. The video games have to be in the right age range so the child would not be playing with games which have inappropriate content.

Having colourful, specially designed equipment for the disabled children so they feel part of the group is also important. There should be non- toxic products so children can hold and feel different textiles and smells. Some children may put objects in their mouth so all the objects have to be stored appropriately. Cooking with the right tools and making sure all the children can eat the ingredients; we would make sure the children have a signed consent form for their special dietary needs. We also have a cooking list so the children can suggest what they want to cook in the future and decide what fruit they want.

E4 Describe ways children are consulted and involved in planning the play environment At the start of the new term all the children and staff sit down with magazines and catalogues to make a shopping list of what the children want in their club. We use drawings; paintings and video interview the children so the child can explain what they feel about the club and what we need to improve the play environment. This is very good for funding applications because the sponsors can see what is needed and why, from the point of view of a child.

The children help us fundraise because it is their club and we find they have more respect for the equipment because the children learn that it is very hard to raise money for equipment. We also find that parents can often have connections which can assist in fundraising. We like to involve children in funding because we feel it builds a stronger case for why we need the money and how we are going to spend the money on things the children want and not on things we think the children want. The children enjoy the responsibility of budgeting and spending of the money and it gives them empowerment.

We find this way helps us buy the right equipment and find out the new trends in games and toys. The children cut out the things they want and write why we should buy it. We give the children a budget then the children make a list of what we can buy within the budget. The children can use catalogues and internet to find the best price before we purchase the goods. With the cooking the children make a list of what they would like to cook and what is in season, for example, we would make soup in the winter and ice cream in the summer. All the cooking has to have fruit or vegetables to meet our 5 fruit and vegetable needs.

In the summer we have fun days, we make a list of all the activities and the children choose 5 from the list. The top 5 activities are put forward and we have an open booking day so the children choose what activities they want to do, for example, going cinema, and bowling, ice skating, swimming and camping. “Parents need to play an important role in early intervention services to have a significant effect on children’s developmental and social-emotional well-being. With some exceptions, the field of early intervention has failed to engage parents as active and primary mediators of the developmental services their children receive.

This failure is incompatible both with the developmental theories on which early intervention services are based, as well as the substantially greater number of opportunities parents have to influence children’s learning and development compared with school personnel and intervention specialists. Furthermore, an increasing body of empirical evidence has identified parent involvement as a critical ingredient of effective developmental intervention. Theory and research findings demand that early intervention change practices related to parent involvement.

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