We, as playworkers are tools. We are enablers, facilitators, advocates, multi task-ers, artists, punch bags, ‘favourite adult’ persons, crazy persons, listeners, speakers, the list goes on. But, we are not teachers or parents. We sometimes though, pass on wisdom that may be seen as teachings but we are not to be concerned with whether the learner has learnt. As we all know, children are learning stuff in their play, in between and when they’re not playing. There’s no right and wrong and I believe somewhere, there is a balance out there which as professionals we need to cooperate to create. I keep thinking of this god damn ‘Us vs them’, right/wrong, too much too soon campaign, government priorities… Its a mess! We need a UNITED Kingdom with a bunch of pros that all have the same agenda: promoting children’s rights and well-being. Easier said…

Sometimes our wires are crossed, especially when you are faced with ‘other’ professionals on a daily basis. So sometimes you have to be fun, firm, caring, angry, rule-abiding, activist-y, context controlled, employer pleasing, ludic-centred, child-centred… Its hard. Always reminding myself WHO I am, WHY I’m here and HOW I’m going to get it sorted.

Two boys struggle to be in a playground. All they would seemingly want to do is go inside, run away from the chaos, hide. Who am I pleasing, helping, listening to, by encouraging them to stay outside? I suggest a task, a game, a frame in which we as a three will play. Maybe not happily, it might be hectic, a struggle between willpower, special needs, control, desires. But, by being the glue that holds the play together, in which they are then able to make their scrap car that they ‘agreed’ to so they can pretend, role play and interact with others, makes all this struggle worth it. Is it? If I walk away or choose to not guide verbally, they shout and hit out at anyone who dares pass them, borrow a wheel or provoke intentionally. Maybe it depends on the amounts of involvement you need to have? If you hold something together past the point they aren’t interested, then this is bad. I’m adulterating their play admittedly, but without me, they don’t play at all. Once inside it may be isolated games, away from others. But, isn’t my job to promote play? I’m not only promoting to adults but also the players themselves? I’m voicing their need, want and love for it, but subtly and always with sensitivity. The boys one day, may feel ok being outside and I’ll feel like my support paid off. Is this adulteration justified? In the long run, they would have possibly got more skilled at containing their own play and even just being present on the playground.

Lily

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