Working Definition: Play for older children and young people
The literature on play is predominantly concerned with children in the early years. However, both the UNCRC and The Scottish Government's Play Strategy underline that play is a right for children and young people up to the age of 18. This review will not attempt to answer what play is for older children and young people or how they would describe it themselves, however our Working Definition is lifted straight from the UN General Comment on article 31 which we feel is as compatible with how play is experienced for older children and young people as it is for young children (even if they don't call it play).
"Play is any behaviour, activity or process initiated, controlled and structured by children themselves; it takes place whenever and wherever opportunities arise (…) play itself is non-compulsory, driven by intrinsic motivation and undertaken for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end. Play involves the exercise of autonomy, physical, mental or emotional activity, and has the potential to take infinite forms, either in groups or alone. These forms will change and be adapted throughout the course of childhood."
General comment No. 17 (2013) on the right of the child to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts (art. 31), United Nations, 2013.
Leisure is described in the UN General Comment as time in which play or recreation can take place - that is, free or unobligated time that does not involve formal education, work, home responsibilities, etc. and is largely discretionary to be used as the child or young person chooses.
Therefore, our proposed Working Definition of play for older children and young people is what children and young people do for fun and enjoyment when they have free time to use as they choose.
Email: Deborah Gallagher