1st Edition

Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective

Edited By Pete King, Shelly Newstead Copyright 2018
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Play is of critical importance to the well-being of children across the globe, a fact reflected in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet existing literature on the subject is largely confined to discussing play from a developmental, educational or psychological perspective. Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective offers a new and exciting angle from which to view play, drawing on the authors’ own experience of conducting research into various aspects of this all-important and pervasive phenomenon.  

    This innovative work will act as a compass for those looking to undertake research into different aspects of play and child welfare. Each chapter explores how the author has combined established and new research methodologies with their individual playwork approaches to arrive at emergent understandings of playwork research. The overall conclusion discusses directions for future research and develops a new model of playwork research from the four common themes that emerge from the contributions of individual authors: children’s rights, process, critical reflection, and playfulness. Examples from the United Kingdom, Nicaragua, and Sweden give this unique work international relevance.

    Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective will appeal to researchers and students around the world working in the fields of playwork, childcare, early years, education, psychology and children’s rights. It should also be of interest to practitioners in a wide variety of professional contexts, including childcare and therapy.

    Foreword (Peter K. Smith) 

    Introduction (Pete King and Shelly Newstead)

    1. Why the Playworker’s Mind-set is Ideal for Research with Children: Child Researchers Investigate Education Rights in Nicaragua (Harry Shier)

    2. Playwork Research as the Art of ‘Mirroring’ (Shelly Newstead)

    3. Nomadic Wonderings on Playwork Research: Putting a Dialectical and Ethnographic Methodology to Work Again (Wendy Russell)

    4. Researching Children’s Play as a Playworker-Ethnographer (Hannah Smith Brennan)

    5. Playing at Research: Playfulness as a Form of Knowing and Being in Research with Children (Philip Waters)

    6. Process, Participation and Reflection: How Playwork Practice Influenced a Mixed Method Approach to Researching Children’s Perception of Choice in their Play (Pete King)

    7. Using Action Research to Explore Play Facilitation in School-based School-age Childcare Settings (Eva Kane)

    Conclusion (Pete King and Shelly Newstead)


    Pete King is a senior lecturer in Childhood Studies at Swansea University, and his current research has been published in both national and international journals, including Journal of Playwork Practice and the American Journal of Play. Pete currently lectures on Children’s Rights, Developmental and Therapeutic Play, Perspectives on Play and Research Methods. 

    Shelly Newstead is a doctoral candidate at UCL Institute of Education, London, and has worked in the playwork field for over 25 years as a practitioner, trainer, author, editor and publisher. Shelly is the founding editor of Journal of Playwork Practice and the Vice-President of ICCP (International Council for Children’s Play).

    ‘This exciting text offers a thoughtful and provocative series of interventions that outline the key role that playworkers have in researching play. The book’s focus on bringing together the insights from professional playwork practice with careful critical and theoretical reflection on play – and on researching childhood – provides a clear statement of the importance of research that combines academic and professional insight. It offers new and established researchers alike an important resource for qualitative and, especially, play-full research.’ - Professor Peter Kraftl, Chair in Human Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK

    Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective provides a comprehensive overview of innovative approaches to research into children’s play that considers what it means to be a reflective playworker investigating the play practice. The individual chapters demonstrate how the researchers have developed methodologies that strengthen ways to enhance investigations into what constitutes good playwork. I recommend this book to would-be researchers wishing to study questions of play that put playwork values at the centre of their enquiry project.’ - Dr Keith Cranwell, Chair, Thurrock Play Network, UK