Paula Hampel, CCLS
Rethinking Children's Play
By Fraser Brown, PhD, and Michael Patte, PhD
Child life specialists continually advocate and educate on the positive impact that play can provide for the hospitalized child. Rethinking Children’s Play (2013), written by Fraser Brown, PhD, and Michael Patte, PhD, can be used as an additional resource for the field of child life to legitimize the importance and necessity of children’s play.
The third and final part of the text introduces the field of playwork as a possible solution to address the issue of the lack of free play in the lives of children. Playwork has a larger presence in the United Kingdom, with a focus on professionals that provide quality, child-directed, play opportunities (Brown & Patte, 2013). This third part of the text may not pertain directly to the practicing child life professional. However, reflecting upon the theory, practices, and values of the playwork profession can provide child life specialists with the opportunity to re-evaluate their own values of play. The playwork view of play can further reinforce why we as child life professionals value play as being an “essential, natural part of childhood” (Association of Child Life Professionals, 2017, “Play”) and why we clearly emphasize the value of play within our missions, values, and vision of the child life profession.
Overall, I would recommend Rethinking Children’s Play as an additional resource that focuses solely on the value of children’s play. This text would serve as an excellent resource for the child life professional seeking to evaluate and reflect upon the current issues surrounding modern-day play in relation to their own practice. In the face of busier clinical and administrative roles in the child life profession, it can be easy to lose sight of the invaluable nature of non-goal oriented, child-led play. Rethinking Children’s Play could be valuable to both the new and seasoned child life professional, serving as a reminder to continually evaluate our role in children’s play and to recognize the distinction between goal-oriented and open-ended play. As child life specialists, we constantly seek to help children find control over the stressors of the healthcare environment. Play provides children with the opportunity to create and explore a world that they can control (Brown & Patte, 2010). Child life specialists should make every effort to provide hospitalized children with an opportunity to participate in unstructured play to promote further positive coping and emotional healing within the hospital environment.
Opinions about the books reviewed in ACLP Bulletin are those of the individual reviewer, and do not reflect endorsement by the Association of Child Life Professionals.
Brown, F., & Patte, M. (2013). Rethinking children’s play. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
Association of Child Life Professionals. (2017). Mission, Values, Vision. Retrieved from http://www.childlife.org/child-life-profession/missionvalues-vision