What we are taught in the Playwork Level 3 is one thing, remembering what you learn and putting it into action is another. You have to adapt the theory to the reality of the people you work with, the environment you are placed and the obstacles of situations you are faced with. You then have the exceptions to the rule, maybe a moment you think I’m not behaving like a Playworker this minute but rather a concerned parent/friend or your personal feelings might take over and after you regret it thinking you should’ve done it this way. One example may be I’m playing in the stream with a group of children aged 7 to 11 and some of them aren’t sure when I suggest we climb along a thick branch to get to the other side. Now, within 5 minutes I’m already breaking many Playwork theoretical rules like, not to encourage a child to do something when they seem unsure, like, telling them I think it would be better if they sat and shuffled despite them insisting they wanted to walk it because I know for a fact that they will slip and fall in the water and that particular child won’t like it, like, when one child questions me in regards to some Dark Play ‘Why can’t we stick a bug to our sticky bracelets?’ And I respond lightly with ‘because its mean, you may hurt them’…

I suppose we call this on the spot decision-making Dynamic Playwork, which is what you literally do ALL the time! We all are human, we all have different personal feelings and in class last year I would have been told not to let these personal feelings to get in the way of child-led, un-influenced play. I think that’s what we need to strive for, I don’t disagree with the principles and I don’t think people should just do as they please when in this honourable role as playworker/playful adult role.

We seem to be the in-between person of Adult and Child, or Authority and Child. I feel we are the advocate, the protector (to an extent ie risky play), the ‘play-thing’ and a tool at their disposal. We get mixed up in feelings of what the child/parent needs and what we should be doing.

Like in the above examples of today’s play frame in the stream using sticks and a team to participate in tasks, challenges, frolics of laughter and curiosity of objects I sometimes forget to look at, the moments when I doubt myself, I then realise that despite having moments of relapse of confusion (‘shall I keep quiet at this point’/’will I get told off by my boss if I allow this’/ ‘if the parents or another PW are looking worried then am I strange that my stomach is as smooth as the stream I have my wellies in up to the brim’)…I realise that the children are happy. So happy and relaxed. They are taking in the leafs, the sticks the exchanges of fantasy talk, whilst another Playworker looks on anxious, I carry this frame on until THEY decide its enough. Playwork is not perfect, there’s no perfect in anything, as you can’t measure play or happiness. As long as my ‘participation’ is welcomed, they are in control, they seem happy, submerged and intrigued, I think I’m doing my job.

Lily

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