Much of our work focusses on developing organisational policies and procedures that support rather than constrain children’s ability to find time and space for play. This includes encouraging adults to pay greater attention to children’s play and enabling them to feel confident in allowing children more freedom. An important part of this is addressing adult concerns about safety and litigation and the development of risk management processes that balance adult’s duty of care with the benefits of children being enabled to play.
Another important aspect of our advice work is supporting the design and development of physical environments that provide for children’s play, whether that be at a neighbourhood level, across visitor attractions or in designated spaces for play. In particular we focus on the extent to which physical environments can support the unique behavioural characteristics of play and how embedding consideration of play into design processes can help to prevent constraints having to be imposed on children, making life a little easier for everyone involved.
Good policies, practices, design processes and play provision are informed by real life evidence from robust research. Too often adults ignore or make assumptions about children’s opportunities for play and therefore what might be the most effective ways of protecting and improving conditions for playing. A big part of our work has been facilitating creative research with children, parents and other community stakeholders and using the information gathered to recommend strategic interventions in support of children’s play. In doing so we have developed tried and tested methods for producing play sufficiency assessments and our research findings have been published and presented to a wide range of audiences.
The other significant part of our work is professional development, ensuring that adults working with or on behalf of children have access to engaging and insightful training informed by contemporary research, theory and practice with regards to children’s play. Over the past few years the professional development opportunities we have designed and delivered have included one day training courses, large multi-agency events, conference key notes and workshops. The themes covered include: the nature and benefits of playing, the role of play in resilience and well-being, cultivating the conditions for play, working with playing children, risk-benefit assessment, play sufficiency research and findings and the role of schools in children’s play. We have also produced written materials for other training providers.