Playwork

Play is an instinct, felt by creatures of all ages. Animals play, children play, and even adults do too! Playwork is a decades-old approach to supporting children’s self-directed play. Our theory and practice grows out of the adventure playground movement, and today playworkers operate in schools, parks, housing shelters and hospitals. Of all professional approaches to children’s play, playwork uniquely emphasizes children’s play as a right, and staff responsibilities to “adult a non-judgmental, non-prejudicial, non-directive, and largely reflective approach to their work” (Prof. Fraser Brown).

Playwork developed primarily in the UK, though students around the world are now able to access information and training through online courses. Many more are hosting independent Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds, a model designed to help build community around play at the grassroots level.

To help share these ideas with teachers, parks and recreation staff and everyone else who was curious, Pop-Up Adventure Play tours and lectures often at conferences. In 2015 Morgan and Suzanna drove 11,000 miles around the USA, a road trip which they documented in The New Adventure Playground Movement: How Communities Across America are Returning Risk and Freedom to Childhood.  In 2016 their World Tour included stops in the UK, USA, Costa Rica, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Click here to learn more about our online course in playwork, or join our mailing list.

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7 thoughts on “Playwork

  1. I have been playing with children (and getting paid for it) for 15 years. It makes me sad to see how few parents are comfortable playing with their kids. I run kids fitness classes and playgroups and am constantly hearing parents (mostly moms) tell their child “adults can’t play” or “parents aren’t allowed to play”How sad is that for a child to hear. Play with your kids, run, jump, dance and sing with them. Maybe our obesity rate would go down a little if everyone did this every day.

    1. I completely agree! I actually just did some sessions playing with families and it was amazing to me how many parents said “I don’t have time for that” or “I’d feel silly”. Children understand so instinctively that people need to play, and how much brighter it makes your life, but I think so many adults are afraid of looking or feeling ridiculous. Where are you based, and what have you found helps parents to become more playful?

  2. I’m lovin the quote by the eleven year old: “Play is what I do when everyone else stops telling me what to do.” Great blog and keep up the good work!

  3. Imagine how scary it must be to a child to hear an adult say that adults aren’t allowed to play. Playing is essential to balanced mental growth. I’m an adult and I love to play. We get out with our daughter and other children in our neighborhood and play kickball, or hide and seek. In fact, PLAY is what my company is all about. I’m so glad I found this site. Excellent articles..greatproject.

  4. Power to you and power to playing: when no one is telling any of us what to do! Thank you. (I also get paid to play, in play therapy with kids, and I love it and advocate more play for everyone’s highest good.)

  5. I ran a number of play settings and I find it hard to be always having to justify to parents, schools, classroom assistants, teachers on lookers who walk pass children at play and dont see the whole pictures, why play is important and taking risk, rough and tumble, are so important. we are putting on a photo exhibition to help parents and all the above that what we are doing is right in west sussex.

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