Playwork Principles and Play Types
These Principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork and as such must be regarded as a whole. They describe what is unique about play and playwork, and provide the playwork perspective for working with children and young people.
They are based on the recognition that children and young people’s capacity for positive development will be enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities.
All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well being of individuals and communities.
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 way for their own reasons.
The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.
For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas.
The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play.
The playworker’s response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up to date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice.
Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker.
Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well being of children.
These were developed by Bob Hughes for the purposes of adults who study and facilitate play. It is examined in far more detail in his 1996 book A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play types, London: PLAYLINK, UK.
Children’s play is rich, varied, organic and constantly evolving. It can explore different types at the same time, flow from one to another and back again. As such, these definitions are by adults, for adults. They’re useful in helping us be more specific when we’re talking about play and play provision but will only ever capture a narrow aspect of the wealth of children’s play. This list is also evolving and should not be assumed to ever be complete.
There has also been controversy over the years about the name of the last play type, Recapitulative. It is left off of some lists entirely, but it addresses forms of play not found elsewhere in the list.