What is Play?

At The Kids’ Club we understand children’s need for play, freedom of choice and to develop through their play.

Children’s play is freely chosen, personally directed behaviour, motivated from within; through play the child explores the world and her or his relationships with it, developing a range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing the child will learn and develop as an individual.

Children’s lives are over-scheduled now more than ever before and all those activities are taking a bite out of their free playtime.

By shortchanging playtime, children miss out on emotional, social, physical and cognitive benefits.

Every time children and young people engage in a play activity, they are discovering something new.

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 to play creatively and thus develop through play. A good Playworker always aims to provide opportunities for the individual child to achieve her or his full potential while being careful not to control the child’s direction and choice.

“Play is the business of children themselves” (Lambert 1974)

Values of Play

Play stimulates the imagination, curiosity and creativity. It provides opportunities to take risk giving children and young people life skills and feelings of accomplishment. They overcome physical and mental challenges. They experiment with the world around them and the world inside them. It reduces stress and anxiety. It helps them be more aware of other’s feelings and respect and value their own and other’s views. They learn to deal with conflict, building life skills, resilience and mental well being. It can be a coping tool for some children. It keeps them physically active. They problem solve, learn to get on with others and make friends. They practice language skills. Learn through first hand experience, by doing they gain understanding. It is a chance to develop their own self and self-guided interests. And above all … it is a source of happiness!

What this Means for Our Club

The Kids’ Club works hard to be child-centred, empowering children and young people; To provide opportunities for play not controlled by adults; To promote individual respect and care and consideration between all involved.

All decisions on the running of the club and the activities and resources provided are made solely for the benefit to the children and young people. The children and young people are listened to and heard. Their ideas and views are respected and valued. The play that takes place will be child led without being controlled by the playworkers. At times this will mean play can carry an element of risk but staff are trained to risk assess accordingly. Taking risk is a necessary part of play.  This can take many different shapes but always involves the thrills and excitement in testing oneself and finding out what happens. All procedures are in place following good practice and legal requirements. It will also mean that children will explore culture, gender and disability issues in our club, through their play. Our aim is to facilitate a wide range of play opportunities.

Professor Karen Hutchison of Rowan University says: “Play is actually the work of a child in which they are preparing themselves for adult roles and society at large”.

“It is through play that children understand each other and make sense of the world around them”

“Play is the universal language of childhood”


Play is hard to define yet easy to recognise. If a child’s behaviour is freely chosen, personally directed and motivated from within then it can be defined as play, whatever the child may be doing. These are the key characteristics of play; they are what makes play special and different.