Play in Forest School

Play is the foundation for learning among the organisms of the animal kingdom, including us. It is a biological, social and psychological necessity.

Play has always been the basis of all our human civilisation construct, from sports, entertainments, readings, parties, education and even faith. They all consist of elements of play, an important component to draw people together to bond.

By giving children the freedom of choice, and allowing play to happen naturally by their own instincts, the release from the fallacy of control gives the learners and practitioner an opportunity to build our own character.

We advocate play as one of the key components in Forest School. Considering the state of our society’s perspective of play, many people think that we have to control or direct the play, which isn’t the case with the playwork principles.

In Forest School, leaders stand for our children, and fight for their rights to have the liberty to make their own choice of their activities. Intervention only happens, when safety and risk outweighs the development and well-being. And that is in line with the Forest School approach through our Risk-Benefit Assessments.

What are the 8 key principles of play and their relevance to Forest School?

(1) All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity. Play is fundamental to the healthy development and well-being of individual and communities.        

(2) 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 ways for their own reason.

(3) The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process. This should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.

(4) For playworkers, the play process takes precedence. Playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas.

(5) The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in creation of a space to play.

(6) The playworkers’ response to players are based on a sound up to date knowledge of play process. It is a reflective practice.

(7) Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space. Also the impact of children and young people’ play on the playworker.

(8) Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All intervention must balance risk with development benefit and well-being of children.

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