We might think that play is “just play” but as we can see here in this piece from Let’s Play Ireland https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/why-play/ so much is going on in play! Children are exploring who they are, what they can do and what the world around them is like when they play. Play is so important that we can speak of the right to play.
The Right to Play
All children have the right to play as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention is a list of all the rights children and young people everywhere in the world have. This is recognised by the Irish State.
Article 31 of the Convention says:
The World Health Organization (WHO) says:
Types of Play
There are many types of play and sometimes play can involve two or more different types of play. When children play they don’t decide first what type of play they will engage with – they just play.
Here’s how Bob Hughes describes types of play in his book ‘A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, London: PLAYLINK, UK.’
Play using words, nuances or gestures for example, mime, jokes, play acting, singing, debate, poetry.
Communication play used the whole body – from facial expressions, hand gestures, body demonstrating and vocally.
Play which allows a new response, the transformation of information, awareness of new connections, with an element of surprise. This play type is one of the most visual by allowing a child to access loose parts, arts and craft materials.
Play which allows the child to encounter risky or even potentially life threatening experiences, to develop survival skills and conquer fear. This type of play is defined by play behaviour that can also be classed as risky or adventurous. This has important benefits to a child’s development.
Play which dramatises events in which the child is not a direct participator. Children may also wish to use make up and costumes in this type of play.
Play to access factual information consisting of manipulative behaviours such as handling, throwing, banging or mouthing objects.
Play which rearranges the world in the child’s way, a way which is unlikely to occur, for example being a superhero or sitting on a cloud.
Play where the conventional rules, which govern the physical world, do not apply, for example pretending to be an animal, or having a make-believe friend to being an object, for example a tree.
Control of the physical and affective ingredients of the environments, for example making a dam in a stream, building a bonfire and digging holes in the earth or sand.
Play which uses infinite and interesting sequences of hand-eye manipulations and movements, for example examining an item and looking into how and why something works.
Play that allows the child to explore ancestry, history, rituals, stories, rhymes, fire and darkness. Enables children to access play of earlier human evolutionary stages.
Skipping, Jumping, playing Chase.
A stick is a wand or the grass is molten lava.
Enacting real life through play, like playing house or mums and dads.
Playing a game together and deciding on rules for that play.
Acting a role like driving a train or having a tea party.
Rough and Tumble Play
Discovering physical flexibility and the exhilaration of display. This will not involve any deliberate hurting but children should be laughing and having fun.
Children will often show preferences for some types of play over others and that is fine. We just need to make sure they have plenty of time to play. You can find out more at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/lets-play-ireland/