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What is the need for children to engage freely chosen, intrinsically motivated, self-directed play?

All children have the impulse to play. Play develops problem solving through play activities. Play is a great form of exercise. Play develops and strengthens a sense of humor, builds self esteem, creates problem solving opportunities, develops short term and long term planning, allows the child in play to be in control and strengthens communication skills.
Play develops children’s ability to form creative and effective adults later in life who are effective in the social and business venues. If children have more opportunities to play they become happier, more in tune with themselves as they grow older. Children are able to determine what skills and abilities they excel at and may want to pursue as hobbies or careers later in life. Children who play are more engaged with other children and the world around them, they are more responsive to others needs and can relate better to peers using play. Risk taking is another area where children who need and or thrive on risk taking find through play these needs are catered to as well as risk taking and adventures using imaginative play.
There is however, a tendency to overprotect children and that can lead to negative results to a children’s world view thereby increasing anxiety and stress. Roaming as a play activity or even walking to and from school are regarded as an adventure activity and these activities are becoming more rare increasing the risk of obesity and other sedentary and unfit.
Children need to play. And we need tools and environments that foster play and allow children to play freely with the room to create and build. Play needs to be primarily freely chosen and self-directed by the children. In a challenging environment children need to test and challenge themselves in play environments. Play Therapist and Child Therapist Strive to maximize the range of play opportunities for children. We must not stop there. Children need everyday play that maximizes the ability for them to create play and develop in different venues.
Children have a right to choose their play and this should be catered to, thereby increasing self awareness through play. We can foster these environments by planning a play work setting. Create and make materials available for play, reflect on how children are using the setting for play and how the play area can be improved. By working alongside the children we can make needed improvements through play with them or asking about what areas they would like to see improved or what additions may need to be added in order to have a successful play area. Respond to children’s request and self expression this will allow them to feel heard and included in making the play area more beneficial to the children as they play.
By reflecting on how the children play and interact, picking up on cues and support an intervention style that supports children’s play. Take part in children’s play when invited into activities through their play cues. Intervene in children play and according to your assessment as a Play Therapist. Also, by engaging with other peers in Play Therapy and reflect on play work practices.
Allow play to end with a positive note and wanting the children to return with a positive experience by supporting their role to the play space.
Styles of Creating Play Interventions Include: Intervention styles :Wanting to be invited into play groups or enabling uninterrupted play, enable children to explore their own values, leave children to improve their own performance within play, letting children decide when and why they play and allowing children to decide what is appropriate behavior, and intervening when this freedom gets challenged.
Loose Parts:Items in an play area that can be rolled, piled, or built upon structures to enforce a solid play environment.
Observation:To ensure effective play spaces the Play Therapist may observe play spaces and how the children interact with the space and with others. Only interacting when invited by the children into the space. Ensure that the play work space continues a positive and effective play space for the children. These observations may include cues, play types, returns and playworkers’ interventions . These observations create playwork settings that support freely chosen self-directed play.
Ownership:By having a say, creating a sense of control within the play setting, and encourging children to have ownership within the space along with having the freedom to use and to change the playspace grants children a sense of control within the playspace.
Play Cues:
Many play cues such as: facial expressions, body language, may communicate to the other children a wish to be included in a play space.
The Play Cycle: The play cycle includes the metalude, the cue, the return, the frame, adulteration, annihilation and display. The full flow of play cycle from the metalude to the annihilation stage in the play cycle and the response of the children’s view of the outside world through play.
Play needs:The lack of play spaces as a result of over protective adults and or lack or outdoor space, create needs for children to be able to fully engage in self directed play.
Play Process:
Has much debate, but in the basic form is the cycle of play and the process the children go through and the emotions they experience along the way and how they respond to those emotions and the play space provided.
Play SpacesAdult created spaces where children can go and play.
Play SpaceA place created by the children playing, this can either be permanent, cyber, transient, physical, or affective.
Playwork settingA setting where children have the ability to play where staff members are present.
Play Returns
This is the childs response to the outside world through play setting.
Play Types Play types include rough and tumble, symbolic, creative, social, socio-dramatic, communication, deep, dramatic, fantasy, exploratory, imaginative, mastery, locomotor, object, roleplay, and recapitulate. Segregated play provision A professional sets aside play space for disabled children and creates a space for these children to fit in with others regardless of their impairments.

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