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What are my six top tips for parents – and why did I even write them?

27 Jan

I am rebloging this as i hope that some of my children and their friends might read it and find it useful!!

Rethinking Childhood

I am on record as saying that I am no parenting guru, and that there are too many people trying to tell parents how to do their job. So why did I recently agree to give FQ magazine – “the essential dad mag” according to its website – my six top parenting tips? (And no, it wasn’t because they paid me!)

The thread that links all my work is that children want and need to expand their horizons: to have everyday experiences of freedom, adventure, exploration and responsibility as they grow up. It is the core of my vision of what a good childhood looks and feels like.


Most of my work to achieve that vision focuses not on parents, but on all the other people and institutions that influence children’s lives: schools, educators, residents, voluntary organisations, play and leisure services, charities, regulators, designers, planners, campaigners, local and national…

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Come on, it’s not so bad – the APPG report on play

28 Oct

I really welcome Bernard’s analysis. It is refreshing and thought provoking as ever, which is much needed. This is also very much the stand that the Children’s Play Policy Forum have taken, though in perhaps a more muted way.

My own view is that what the sector now needs after the tree has been shaken, is to watch for falling fruit to be picked and developed (eaten?).

Bernard Spiegal

It’s true, the recent report on play by the All-Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood would have benefited from some judicious editing and organising in terms of structure and length. True, too, that there are points where it veers off in directions that some might feel are not entirely consistent with other points it seeks to make.

But if you’re of a mind that repetition of one’s cardinal beliefs is evidence of their veracity, this may be the report for you. For not a page goes by where one is not reminded that, truly, play is a wondrous thing – as activity; as state of mind; as scourge of obesity epidemics; as generator of formal educational achievement – capable of generating every kind of benefit. No slouch, either, this report, for it takes care to reference the basis of its analysis and conclusions.

Nevertheless, disappointment has been expressed…

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Play Corb

23 Jun

I am fascinated by the unsung way in which children’s play and architecture interact. I keep stumbling on quotes and examples, say once every year. They probably symbolise my own interests and attitudes to play. Informing what makes me tick. Like play Architecture reaches across society, political, creative, psychological, social, cultural, one could go on.

I just love these two examples

EPSON MFP image

Corbusier 1955 impression of Modulor Man, cast in concrete in Nantes, affirmed by playing child.

And this quote from the Barbican Bauhaus exhibition, which I blogged previously,

“as children for children

Play, festivities and other extra-curricular activities were an important part of artistic and daily activity at the Bauhaus. A number of the school’s masters, including Feininger and Klee, were raising children and designed puppets and toys for them. In the tradition of nineteenth-century educational reformers such as Friedrich Froebel, play was also seen as a way to tap into the creative imagination and as an important part of learning. Master Itten incorporated these ideas into his classroom teaching ‘I suggested that we should make toys for the next few weeks. So I struck a powerful blow to the old academic tradition of the nude and drawing from nature and I am leading all creative activity back to its roots, to play’.”

He would obviously have made a good Playworker!

and now, just visited the RIBA exhibition The Brutalist Playground

http://www.architecture.com/BrutalistPlayground

 Well worth a visit even if only to pick up the excellent catalogue/broadsheet with more details about Architects and playspaces and an interesting set of lectures. As someone trained in Architecture and having lived my life on the edge looking in, I am fascinated by the tension between the arrogance of architects believing that they can create places for children to play and some of the visionary ideas they have produced. If only we could share Aldo Van Eyck’s vision of Public Realm.

FIL852

Not Aldo Van Eyck, but not bad! Friedrichshafen public space. I rest my case!

My Purbeck Playground: A Natural endorsement

28 May

I was having my haircut the other day when my Hairdresser told me about an essay her daughter Eva, aged 10, had written for her primary school and which had won a prize and been published in our local Swanage newspaper. When I got home I had a read and felt I had to share it (with Eva’s enthusiastic agreement!). So, despite my concern about the ubiquity of “natural play” among my professional colleagues, here it is:

My Purbeck Playground

by Eva Longland, aged 10, from Swanage Primary School

Swanage Bay

Swanage Bay

“Warm tendrils of yellow-green grass tickling my legs, which are sticking ‘post it’ notes to my brain. The humming bees send their hypnotic sound to my ears. All of this is telling me it’s spring. I am in my spring playground. It’s not lined with thick black treacle like tarmac or dotted with wood or metal structures. It has a carpet of grass, as you probably guessed and there are rocks jutting out like shark fins in an ocean. I am with my friends on Tyneham mountain (the natural hill that lies between the two beaches at Tyneham) speeding down the long flat tails of grass.

The wind whistling in my ears as loud as a fog horn. My sweaty hands grip the sides of the ripped dog eared picnic blanket that we are using as a homemade sledge. My stomach clenches tighter. I am sat on the blanket as I speed near the edge of the small mountain. Sprinting up the hill after my exhilarating journey. I want to relive that magical moment.

My Summer playground. Home to the plates piled high with chips ready to be dunked in dollops of rich red ketchup. Home to the sun filled days lounging around in Swanage bay after sea swimming. Home to lobsters, crabs and the local fishermen.

Remembering the day when a local food hero (Mick from Gee Whites) was greeted by tourists asking “where are the lobsters from, mate?”

All the restaurant owner did was point out to the bay and say nothing more. I watched in wonder, stunned as to why they were so surprised. I regularly observe the hardworking fishermen hauling the lobster pots up from the depths of the sea to an orchestra of hungry seagulls.

My dog has to be the best surfer on the beach (Okay, I am biased) as she looks back ready to catch ‘the big one’, a sudden leap of excitement pounds in my chest. A glint in her eye is the only signal I need to get a camera.

Autumn means a new playground for me and leaf surfing is the perfect celebration for me. It was quite by accident that I learnt this new sport. I was playing in the woods at Durlston, gathering leaves in a pile. As I heaved an old plank of wood that I had noticed earlier to the top of a little hill, I decided to balance on it, and before I knew it I found I was surfing on the leaves!

Winter is here. One of my favourite things to do is snow tobogganing. Although I have only seen snow two times in my life, still it seems a tradition. As my sledge bumps precariously several times at Corfe Common cutting through the snow, my heart leaps into the air!

Although I regularly visit cities, Nothing beats coming home to Purbeck, Tyneham, Durlston, Swanage Bay and Corfe Common are just a few of my favourite Purbeck playgrounds.”

Health and Safety Executive mentions Play Safety Forum in final report on health and safety reforms

14 Apr

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last week mentioned the Play safety Forum (PSF) and High Level Statement on play, in its final report on the health and safety reforms it has taken forward under the current government. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-health-and-safety-final-report-march-2015

Quote from p.13:

4    Education

Revised Department for Education health and safety guidance for schools and the generic consent form were launched along with an HSE High Level Statement on the application of health and safety law to school trips (July 11). HSE and the Play Safety Forum published a joint statement on striking a balanced approach when managing risk in play (July 2012). HSE continues to engage with the Play Safety Forum and their work to advocate effective policies and good practice for play provision. These changes in the education sector deliver a key objective in the Government’s health and safety reform agenda, stressing the benefit of extracurricular activities to pupils’ development, debunking myths about perceived barriers to such activities, and giving assurances to teachers over unfounded fears of prosecution in clear and simple language.

This is a really welcoTyre Dragonme recognition of the work the Forum has been doing over the past 12 years, starting with the Play Safety Forum (PSF) Position Statement published in 2002 under the wing of the Children’s Play Council (Managing risk in play provision: A position statement), followed by Managing Risk in Play: implementation guide in 2008 published by Play England supported by the BIG Lottery (Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation guide) ; then working with the HSE to produce the High Level Statement mentioned above (promoting a balanced approach) and finally the publication of the ‘Risk-Benefit Assessment Form’  (Download Word version (blank form)  an easy-to-use tool to support play providers to balance the benefits of an activity with any inherent risk, taking into account the risks while recognising the benefits to children and young people of challenging play experiences.

Girl hang swinging

In all these publications we have worked with the HSE, breaking new ground and long held, cherished beliefs in the absolute drive to reduce risk. In doing this work our aim has always been to increase the opportunities for children to play freely and widen those opportunities rather than allow risk aversion to reduce the delight and thrill of children’s play. Increasingly we have shared our beliefs with those responsible for Governance and Management within the HSE, which I believe now places the UK at the forefront of global thinking about the importance of risk in play.

Dear politicians, playing children bring communities together – but they need you to protect their space

9 Apr

I totally support this Blog from Adrian and am reblogging it just in case there are a few people who otherwise might not have seen it!

Policy for Play

Over 100 playworkers and play advocates have united to refute the UKIP claim that immigration stops children playing out together, and to highlight the real reasons for the decline in outdoor play.

This is a copy our letter, which is being sent to 3000 election candidates today, calling for government support for community play.

Play advocates are encouraged to adapt it with local examples and quotes from families to use in local campaigns*

*Please remove signatories if the letter is altered in any way.

Dear Candidate,

Following the recent assertion, from Nigel Farage of UKIP, that immigration divides communities to the extent that children can no longer play outside together, we would like to assure you that in our experience of supporting community play over many years, this is not true.

We would, however, like to highlight evidence of the real barriers to outdoor play.

Play is in some…

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Peer reviewed research argues against the need to change safety criteria for playground surfaces

1 Apr

Today researchers from the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit published an article supporting the call for ASTM to put its playground surfacing proposals on hold. You can find the paper here:

http://www.injuryresearch.bc.ca/can-we-go-too-far-when-it-comes-to-childrens-injury-prevention/

As Chairman of the UK Play Safety Forum I very much welcome the international support that this paper gives to our campaign to persuade the ASTM to vote against dropping the HIC 1000 criteria to HIC 700, which would result in significant amounts of public money being spent without any proven benefit for children or their safety.

I would urge all those who are interested to follow the link and read on!

Playwork field calls on parties to adopt policy measures for play

25 Mar

I am sure that, in a more sympathetic world, they are very much the asks that we all would be making and they compliment the 4 asks. The sooner the new vehicle for Playwork is established, the better!

Policy for Play

Proposals from the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne show that the playwork sector has lost none of its ambition, or its fight

A special session at the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne earlier this month has produced a clear and ambitious play policy agenda ahead of the General Election. Here is the text of a joint statement from the conference convenors and the steering group for a new vehicle for playwork:

“A General Comment from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2013[1]said that governments have an obligation under international law to ‘recognise, protect and fulfil’ children’s right to play, through appropriate legislation, planning and budgeting.

A recent research review of the impact of children’s play initiatives found that there is good evidence that they ‘lead to improved health outcomes for children, and are also linked to a range of other developmental benefits’ and…

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Four Asks For Play

20 Mar

Children’s Play Policy Forum suggests four asks for play for consideration by Politicians in the run up to the election and for the new administration.

Download ‘Four asks for play’

The UK’s Children’s Play Policy Forum is calling for all UK political parties to invest in children’s play because of the proven benefits to children, families and communities.

’Four asks for play’ calls on the UK Government to:

  • Recognise the need for play before school, during play/break times and after school hours
  1. Extend the existing Department of Health-funded programme supporting regular sessional road closures in residential streets in England to every major city in the UK
  2. Invest in a programme focusing on disadvantaged communities to encourage appropriate play in public space, while reducing neighbourhood conflict and the resulting pressure on police time
  3. Provide support for staffed play provision to test innovative community-based health and well-being initiatives.

Investing in the ‘Four asks for play’ will result in improvements in children’s health and wellbeing, the Children’s Play Policy Forum says, and hence a reduction in the pressures on the National Health Service and the public purse.

The evidence produced by Tim Gill in the  The Play Return show that the long-term health benefits of playing include boosting physical activity levels which helps to tackle child obesity, and supporting children to become more resilient. Play initiatives also benefit the wider community by encouraging neighbourliness and improved community cohesion.

I believe that we know that playing provides immediate and long-term benefits to children, young people and the wider community. We all have a responsibility to ensure children have opportunities to play in their communities. We are calling on all political parties to provide for play initiatives across the UK – the level of investment needed would be relatively modest yet extremely cost-effective.

I would be grateful if everyone involved in canvassing or responding to political canvassers asks candidates these questions.

 

 

Playground surfacing and ASTM: good news, but concerns remain

9 Mar

I completely endorse Tim’s views and would urge any of you who do not follow his blog and happen to see this one to make your support known!

Rethinking Childhood

Yesterday ASTM put on hold its proposal to tighten up playground surfacing standards, according to reports from committee members. ASTM’s original proposal has prompted widespread criticism: most recently from campaigning journalist Lenore ‘Free Range Kids’ Skenazy and leading American playground design commentator Paige ‘Playscapes’ Johnson. So yesterday’s decision – to suspend publication and refer the issue back to the relevant committee – is good news.

However, it is not clear what happens now. The next meeting of the surfacing committee is in May. But some members have told me that the chairman, George Sushinsky, is considering re-balloting members to push it through before then – perhaps before the end of March.

Playground surfacing with question mark

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