ChildLinks Issue 2: Play

Barnardos. (2015). ChildLinks Issue 2: Play.
Investment in children in Budget 2016 is a positive first step towards building a fairer future for children in Ireland. Extra investment to extend childcare services, including an earlier start date for joining the free preschool year, paid paternity leave and an increase in child benefit will be welcomed by tens of thousands of Irish families. However, these measures must be followed up with sustained investment and action for it to have a true and lasting impact on those families who have spent years struggling against poverty and inequality. In this issue of ChildLinks we look at the issue of Play. Play is one of the key features in how a child learns and is an important factor in their social, emotional and cognitive development. Play situations give young children the opportunity to explore the world around them, learn new skills and build connections with others, both socially and emotionally. Play can also be a means through which a child copes with difficult situations and emotions. While stress, change and upheaval cannot always be avoided, it can make a great difference to a child to be able to play in a way that helps them to deal with feelings such as frustration, fear, bewilderment, confusion, hurt and loss. This issue examines children’s play stories and the importance to children of being included in play with others. It also looks at play in Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education in Ireland, and the need for early years educators to have an understanding and knowledge of both child development and the stages and types of children’s play in order to provide appropriate play opportunities and materials. This issue of ChildLinks also examines the therapeutic value of play and how play therapy can provide children with an opportunity to ‘play out’ their thoughts, feelings and problems in a non-directive way, and in a safe environment with a caring therapist. Two further articles give information on research studies. One study looks at the play interactions of infants under two within the home physical environment. The study explores and identifies ways in which young children develop and learn to negotiate objects and spaces of everyday life in the home. The second study explores how fathers and mothers interact with their babies and toddlers, and how different styles of interactions are related to characteristics of the mothers, fathers, and the children themselves. It asks questions such as, Do parents systematically interact differently with boys in comparison with girls? Do fathers engage in higher levels of physical play than mothers?