By Justine Walsh

Justine is one half of Journey into Play, an Australia based Professional Development group that’s working with Malarkey, who we have just finished touring with. She is a student on our Playworker Development Course and spent a lot of time with us when we were in Australia, discussing and reflecting on playwork. We are really pleased and thankful that Justine has taken some time to write us a blogpost about her most recent playwork moment.

I was made aware that Playwork existed in 2012 and from the moment I heard about it, it just made so much sense to me. Children directing their own play, which I had been striving for, for years within my own practice, and a space where play was play for play’s sake. No other agendas, actually people actively working towards leaving all their agenda’s behind, other than the play needs of the child. I had been moving away from the idea of ‘teaching’ and ticking boxes, towards a space where play is the most important thing, where we facilitate play above and beyond anything to do with us.

I am calling the following account, my Playwork moment (even though I am not a trained playworker) and I am owning every second of it. Has it changed my life? Quite possibly. It has certainly made me want to do, reflect and work towards more of these moments.

My playwork moment occurred during a training session myself and my business partner Nicole were facilitating. Our business, Journey into Play, runs professional developments for people within the Early Childhood Sector. This particular training included people having the opportunity to play with a variety of loose parts.

There was one particular participant who was playing with a shiny tubular piece of insulation type material. As I walked past her she asked if there were any scissors. I went and retrieved her a pair. As I handed them to her she asked, “Can I cut this open?” to which I replied, “of course”.

I then walked away and watched from afar. She cut the tubular material down one side and then opened it out flat. A couple of other people joined her and they started to flap the material like a parachute.

This play then changed and I saw the material start to get wrapped around someone’s head at first, and then her body. It was when the wrapping started to happen that I thought to myself, they are going to need to hold the material in place with something.

Without saying a word, I picked up a roll of tape, walked over behind the group and placed the tape slightly behind where they were engaged in their play. They wrapped, they unwrapped and then I could see one of them holding the material with her hand, as she looked around, for what I presumed was something to hold it together. She needed the material to stay in place.

As she turned to look, there it was…the tape! She reached for it! She grabbed it and then started to use it! Too exciting for me!

That was it, that was, my playwork moment. It was a moment where I felt triumphant. Where I had anticipated someone else’s play needs and quietly gone about providing the material that was needed. I had done this with my cloak of invisibility on. My play ninja moves. There was no need to ask her what she wanted, I had anticipated it. I didn’t have to interrupt what she was doing to ask.

This is how we can be with the children who we engage with. There is no need for us to constantly interrupt or question. If we step back and watch we can get a feel for what is needed.

This is a moment I will not forget.

This blogpost was originally written for Justine’s personal blog which can be found here. To find out more about playwork, you too can be part of our Playworker Development Course. Get in contact to find out more! And finally, we will be seeing Justine again in October – if you want to find out more about our next Australia trip, please get in contact with Team Malarkey.