Unit 2 – Ways in which Playworkers Relate to, Support and Safeguard Children and Young People in Play Settings. E1. Describe how the playworker can create a play environment where all children and young people feel listened to and respected. Playwork Principle 5 states “The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play”. An effective playworker should be able to meet the ever changing needs of the children and young people in their care and understand that the attitudes of the staff can have a major impact on the child’s play experience.
All Children and young people in your care should be treated with the same respect and have the same rights and access to every opportunity that is provided. No children should be excluded due to your own beliefs, prejudice or religion. It is important that positive relationships are made with all children and young people attending the setting regardless of their age, home circumstance, gender etc. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989 was devised as a universal statute dealing with the child’s specific needs and rights.
Several of its articles state that children and young people have the right to express their own views and opinions, to be listened to and shown respect. A Settings mission statement should relate to these rights as should its policies and procedures incorporate them. The starting point in working effectively with children of all ages is your relationship with them. Children who feel valued and who enjoy being with you will respond better. This means that they are more likely to enjoy their time in the setting.
The basis of forming a relationship with children is to consider what their needs may be and to adapt the way in which you work to meet these needs to suit the age or stage of development. You need to make sure that children are always able to turn to someone when they are upset, disappointed or dealing with problems. They need familiar, friendly and supported faces therefore an important aspect of creating a play environment where children and young people feel listened to and respected is communication. The most successful play workers are those with good communication skills enabling them to develop effective elationships with those in their care. Effective communication is not only verbal but incorporates body language, facial expressions and listening skills. Children and young people within a setting should feel they are able to talk to any of the adults about any subject and be confident to say “no” if they are not comfortable about something. Our setting has a group charter, devised by the children and young people, which states amongst others ‘that everyone has a right to choose who and what they wish to play with. Children and young people should be consulted regularly about the type of things/activities they wish to do within the setting. We have a children’s planning board which all children are free to offer up ideas and suggestions on at any time. Through observation and informal consultations with the children our staff are able to resource the setting appropriately for those attending and therefore creating a play environment that the children are aware that they are active participants in the group development take ownership of. E2.
Describe how the behaviour of the playworker may affect the play and behaviour of children and young people. Playwork Principle 7 states. “Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker” A playworker can play a significant role in the life of a child. Playworkers should be aware and understand that the attitudes and actions of the staff can have a major impact on the child’s play experience. The behaviour of the playworker can affect the play both positively and negatively.
Playworkers appreciate the fundamental importance of the play process. The key purpose of playwork is to support, rather than direct or control, this process. JNCTP 2003 How a playworkers behaviour can have a positive effect on the play and behaviour of children and young people – oA child/young person greeted by a friendly playworker and a smile at the beginning of a session is likely to feel at ease straight away and enjoy their play experience. oA playworker that exhibits good relationships with other adults can act as a role model for children when building their own relationships. A Playworker should support and facilitate the play process in a way that does not undermine the child’s personal control and involvement whilst recognising that the impulse to play is innate within the child thus allowing the play process to occur and continue naturally as determined by the child or young person. oA Playworker should respect the right of children to decide and control the content and intent of their play. It can often occur that the child’s play will step outside a playworkers comfort zone, for example climbing high into a tree.
In this case the playworker should recognise that it would be more appropriate for another playworker to oversee this situation to allow the play to continue without unwanted intervention. Children’s play is extended when they are given the opportunity to challenge themselves and take risks. A setting that allows this will provide a far better play experience than one that does not. oChildren /young peoples play will be improved if the playworkers only take part within the play if they are invited to do so through the child’s play cues.
How a playworkers behaviour can have a negative effect on the play and behaviour of children and young people – oA playworker that does not allow the play process to flow either by constantly questioning, criticising or intervening will inhibit the play experience and possibly curb future play within the session because the child will not feel comfortable to experiment or risk take. oA child/young person greeted by a miserable, cross or angry playworker is likely to feel uncomfortable and not make the most of their play experience within the session. oPlayworkers who are overly concerned with the ‘mess’ or protecting children’s clothes etc. ill limit the child’s/young persons play experience. The concerns of the playworker are likely to be transferred to the child making it probable that the child will not take part as freely as they may have done without these anxieties. E3. Describe two ways to help children and young people make choices in the play setting. 1. By making the children/young people aware that the setting is theirs and therefore they have a say in what goes on within it will give them a sense of ownership and should result in them feeling comfortable in making suggestions for changes or improvements.
In our setting we have a children’s planning board which all children are free to offer up ideas and suggestions on at any time by means of post it notes. The playworkers endeavor to provide resources so that the children/young people’s ideas can be fulfilled and if this is not possible the reason why will always be explained. 2. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that all children have a right to be consulted about matters that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account.
It is good practice to involve children/young people in the planning of play opportunities and events within the setting. Through consultation, whether it be informal chats or specific questioning, the setting is more likely to provide resources and activities that the children will enjoy and get greatest value from. Our setting always finishes each term with a special event that is decided upon by the children. We do not ask them to pick from a list we provide but leave the choices entirely up to them. The children are very sensible about choosing something that is possible and can be achieved on our limited budget.
To date we have held a Christmas fancy dress party, fashion show, barbecue and the most popular event – a talent show. The children organised the talent show entirely unaided, only providing the staff with a list of prizes to supply. They sent invites to parents and carers, arranged for 3 adults to act as judges and made posters. There was a backstage role for those who didn’t wish to show their talent. The event was a huge success and it was obvious that a great sense of pride was felt by all our children. E4. Describe two ways the playworker can help children and young people to reach group agreements.
Group agreements are decisions made with and between children/young people on how they would like to be treated by and treat others. Good playwork practice promotes the use of such agreements as a way of making sure that the children and young people are involved in developing the settings policies and procedures. Such agreements can be formal or initiated to fit a particular one off situation. Group agreements should be flexible and exist to suit the current needs of the children/young people attending the setting as an alternative to rules imposed by staff.
These needs may change on a daily basis depending on the dynamic of the group at each session. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that ‘all children have a right to be consulted about matters that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account’. Playworkers can help children and young people reach group agreements by; 1. An ad hoc group agreement could be developed and be in place for a single session or part session only. It may become necessary due to a dispute between children regarding a game or use of resources/space etc.
A playworker should act to facilitate a discussion between the children in the hope that they will be able to come to an agreement themselves to resolve the situation. Children are far more likely to adhere to an agreement that they have devised rather than one they have been instructed to follow. In our breakfast setting the children were arguing over the area they needed to play their separate games. A group of children wishing to play football were unhappy about other children skipping across their ‘pitch’.
The children were encouraged to look at the space available to them and come up with a way they could play their respective games without intruding on each others space. Between them the children decided to cone off a skipping area and football pitch whilst still leaving an area free. This agreement was never written down or made formal yet the children adhere to it every time a game of football is started. 2. In a setting that is child centred it is good practice to involve the children/young people in devising a behaviour policy.
Our setting has opted for a behaviour agreement, as an alternative to a behaviour policy, which was formulated by the attending children/young people. Initially the playworkers explained to the children that we would like an agreement for both adults and children alike that incorporated a respect for our environment and the type of behaviour they would like to see within the setting. Both staff and children/young people contributed ideas which were combined and contracted until everyone was happy with the finished article.
The statements were kept short and simple so that they were easily understood. Our behaviour agreement includes statements such as; We will treat the equipment and resources with respect, We understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, We will treat each other with respect. The agreement was sent out for all parents and carers to read and comment on should they wish to do so and is displayed within the setting.
All children and staff have the opportunity to sign the agreement to say that they are happy with its content. Our agreement is a working document which can be adapted or added to at any time to meet changes in attending children and/or their needs. E5. Describe how the playworker can support children and young people so that they can resolve conflict for themselves. Conflict is defined as a challenge to the way a person thinks or behaves. Conflict is a natural and regular occurrence throughout childhood and can arise over; otoys relationships oideas ospace opower oincomplete understanding It is important that children and young people discover how to communicate their needs in a respectful way to others and to listen with respect to the ideas of others. Many adults find conflict among children frustrating and feel uncertain about their role within the dispute, however, it can only prove to be beneficial when adults are thoughtful and skilled in their approach to conflict resolution as it is an important foundation for future growth and learning.
As the play setting is a more relaxed and less structured environment than most others that the children/young people will attend, such as school, sports clubs etc, it is likely that conflict will occur more readily within it. The playworker can support children and young people so that they can resolve conflict for themselves by; ? Understanding that standing back and not intervening will give the children/young people the opportunity to work out their differences independently. ?Acting as a good role model – ensuring that the children/young people see the adults in the setting finding solutions to everyday problems in a sensible manner. Acting as a mediator if it becomes clear that the children are not managing to resolve the situation. The play worker should try to get the children to talk about the problem and look at ways that it may be resolved. It is important that the playworker remains neutral throughout this procedure. ?Encourage problem solving in teams. In our setting the children often set up obstacle courses and then try to beat each others time around the course. Encouraging children to partake in activities such as this in teams will build on their communication skills including listening and questioning and their negotiation skills. Understanding and communicating to the children that conflicts do not always have a ‘happy ending’, sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. E6. Discuss possible signs and indicators of abuse. Abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm. Abuse is categorized into 4 main types; neglect, physical, emotional and sexual. oNeglect is failure by a parent or carer to meet a child’s basic needs (such as love, safety, food, and warmth) in a way that affects their general health, development or safety.
Often neglect occurs due to ignorance or a lack of understanding on the parents/carers behalf and harm is not always intended. Indicators of neglect can be physical, emotional and behavioural and include; ? The child is often/always hungry, looks pale and undernourished and is generally in poor health. ?Children are tired and listless due to lack of sleep and/or poor diet. ?Poor attention span due to lack of sleep and/or poor diet. ?Unattended wounds or illnesses. ?Inadequate clothing for time of year or occasion or clothing is unwashed and in poor repair. The child has a level of responsibility for parents and/or siblings that is inappropriate to their age. ?Child appears unkempt, unbrushed hair and teeth. ?Children that have frequent accidents due to lack of supervision. ?Children that are not part of a close group of friends ?frequently left unsupervised or alone for periods of time ? Frequently absent from school as parents will not bring them. ?Children lie or steal oPhysical Abuse means inflicting physical harm to a child/young person indicators of physical abuse include; ?
Bruises in places not ordinarily associated with children’s trips and falls such as neck, tops of arms or back of the legs. Bruising appearing regularly in the same areas. Bruising that appears to illustrate finger marks or outlines of shapes. ?Cuts and other skin wounds such as bite marks in unexpected places. Wounds that appear to warrant medical intervention but being treated at home could give rise to suspicion of abuse. ?Burns and scalds in unexpected places such as upper arms or on the back or that seem to occur repeatedly.
Burns in specific shapes such as small circles could indicate cigarette burns. ?Broken bones. Children that regularly seem to have accidents resulting in broken bones may be at risk. Also fractures that are not appropriate to the child’s age or stage of development. ?Repeated black eyes or bumps to the head. ?Flinching or atypical reactions to sudden movements. With all of the above injuries suspicion could be raised when the injury does not seem to concur with the parent/carers or the child’s explanation of how it happened. oEmotional Abuse occurs when a child’s confidence and sense f self-worth are undermined, e. g. by ignoring them, constantly threatening or humiliating them or issuing degrading punishments. The Indicators of emotional abuse are not as easily recognisable as with other types of abuse. Children who are victims of emotional abuse will often present with behavioural signs such as; Suffering from a low self esteem and lack of confidence. • Suffering from speech disorders. • Lacks social skills may be inappropriately aggressive or highly aggressive. • being verbally abusive or is cruel to others. • may show signs of regression such as frequent wetting. exhibiting extreme behaviour (Rocking, biting or bites self, compulsions, obsessions, phobias and hysterical outbursts. ) • Likes to be isolated or becomes isolated. • Older children particularly girls might self harm or self mutilate. • Lack of concentration. • Lack of emotion and confidence. (Shy, passive, compliant). • Child makes negative statements about self. • Overly demanding. oSexual abuse is any sexual contact with a child or the use of a child for the sexual pleasure of someone else including fondling and touching. Indicators of sexual abuse include; ?
Bruising to the inner thigh or back. ?Frequent urinary infections or a child that finds it painful to go to the toilet and, therefore, is reluctant to do so. ?The child has difficulty walking or sitting. ?Changes in the child’s behaviour such as becoming overly clingy or uncharacteristically aggressive and angry. ?The child displays sexual knowledge or behaviour that is inappropriate for their age or stage of development. ?Child starts to use inappropriate sexual terms, new names for body parts and may even starts performing ‘sexual acting out’. The child is affectionate towards others in a sexual manner. ?The child may start suffering from sleep problems and nightmares. Other indicators are more prevalent in older children such as; ? Signs of pregnancy such as sickness and/or weight gain. ?The child displays self destructive behaviour – taking drugs, drinking alcohol whilst underage, promiscuity or self mutilation. Although not listed as one of the main types of abuse bullying is considered to be abuse and playworkers should be aware of its indicators particularly as the play setting is child centered.
Bullying can take on various forms of abuse, physical, emotional or verbal. It may involve one child bullying another or a group of children against a single child or groups against another. A child that is a victim of bullying may; ? Exhibit significant changes in their behaviour. ?Have a reluctance to go home, to school, play setting or a particular activity. ?Appear reluctant to be in the vicinity of certain people/groups. ?Give improbable reasons for injuries, damage to clothing or property. ?Have erratic attendance or give implausible reasons for being absent. Exhibit aggressive behaviour towards others. In a good setting the playworkers should have a good understanding of the attending children and therefore recognize and take note of changes in the child’s behaviour promptly and be ready to act upon any concerns if necessary. E7. Describe ways the playworker can support children and young people who may have experienced abuse. By its nature a playwork setting should present itself as an informal, relaxed environment, it is, therefore, not surprising that children/young people feel comfortable enough to confide in their playworkers.
It is imperative that playworkers recognise their role in the child’s life and are aware of how they can support them through difficult periods. The playworker can support children and young people who may have experienced abuse ultimately by making sure that all those in their care know that they are there for them and by being approachable. In our setting we have several vulnerable children whom have formed close bonds with the adults and have turned to them above others. It is through occasions such as this that the mportance of the role of the playworker is most apparent. The playworker can also support children and young people by oNot singling them out. Children will want to blend in with the others in the hope that they will not be perceived to be different in any way. oEnsuring that the child/young person knows that the playworker will respect their right to confidentiality and, therefore, likely to feel more comfortable in opening up should they wish to do so. oNot pressurising the child/young person into talking about things.
As long as the child knows that you are available and willing to listen to them they should be left to approach you should they wish to do so. oMaking sure that there is time within each session where a playworker is in a quiet area and can be approached by anyone wishing to talk. In our setting a playworker is usually on their own for a short while whilst preparing/tidying away snack or receipting payments. It is quite common for a child to take this opportunity for a chat, usually about things they’ve done or are going to do but occasionally they want to talk about something they are worried about.
The playworker, however busy with duties, will always take time to listen and advise if appropriate and follow up at future sessions. oHave the ability to show affection whilst remaining professional. Policies and procedures should outline the boundaries for playworkers. oKeeping up to date with training and taking on additional training should the needs of your children necessitate it. oEstablishing and maintaining good relationships with the schools associated with your children so that you can keep each other informed about any developments/changes regarding the child and provide support for each other.
E8. Describe ways of helping children and young people protect themselves from all forms of abuse. Article 19 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states children have the rights to be ‘protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse by those looking after them’. As playworkers we endeavour to keep the children and young people in our care safe from harm, however, it is important that we help to equip them to stay safe when they are not with us.
In response to the Victoria Climbie case the government commissioned ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 2006 which set out how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Alongside the regulations outlined for settings to follow playworkers can help children and young people protect themselves from all forms of abuse by; ? Promoting children’s sense of self worth by being interested in them and their lives and praising achievements and behaviour.
Children with a high self esteem generally face situations with optimism and trust. They are empowered to take risks and question what is right and wrong. ?Ensuring that children/young people are aware that they have rights and that it is acceptable to say ‘no’ to others including adults. ? ?Acting as a positive role model. We know that children look up to adults and often model their behaviours. They look up to the adults in their lives for protection, answers, and guidance and also for cues on how to act in everyday situations.
A good playworker should present themselves as a good role model, the children and young people attending your setting should see that you take care of yourself. You should avoid making negative comments about your body or that of others as this will project a sense of body confidence that can influence how children kids feel about their own bodies. Always keep a positive attitude, take responsibility for your own action and behave ethically. It is also important that children should never see you participate in or talk about any experiences with drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Ensuring that literature and books that deal with the problems that children and young people may encounter are readily available within the setting. It is also good practice to display contact details to organisations relevant to children such as childline. ?By encouraging children and young people to voice their opinions, as with group agreements, playworkers are empowering children/young people to be confident and understand that their opinion matters. Confident children are less likely to become victims of abuse. ? It is important that all members of staff are aware of all types of bullying that could occur within or away from the setting. Unfortunately today many children and young people are victims of cyber bullying via internet and mobile phones. If possible display information about help and advice lines within the setting, make sure that if your setting has access to computers that they are used sensibly and safely preferably with a safe users policy that all are aware of. E9. Show an understanding of anti-discriminatory/anti-bias practice in relation to playwork practice.
An effective playwork team should be able to meet the ever changing needs of the children and young people in their care. A setting should have in place policies and procedures, including inclusion and disability policy, that recognize that all children and young people are individuals and will have differing needs and make different choices. All staff should be aware of and understand these policies and procedures and use them as a guideline to support their everyday practice.
The attitudes of the staff and a well thought out environment should ensure a setting is fully inclusive. All Children and young people in your care should be treated with the same respect and have the same rights and access to every opportunity that is provided. No children should be excluded due to your own beliefs, prejudice or religion. It is important that positive relationships are made with all children and young people attending the setting regardless of their age, home circumstance, gender etc.
It is also important not to label children as “arty”, “shy”, “trouble” etc as such labels can place limitations on their play experiences within the setting. Although all children and young people should be treated as equals this does not necessarily mean that all children receive the same amount of adult attention and time as each other. Varying situations will require a child or group of children to have far more adult attention than others on that particular occasion. It is when a child or group of children constantly receive more adult attention that favoritism could be considered to be taking place.
A well thought out fully inclusive play environment should be welcoming, aesthetically pleasing, but most importantly make all children and families feel included and comfortable. The setting should contain resources and images which reflect diversity in all its forms, from gender roles to racial and ethnic background to special needs and abilities. As well, as well as reflecting a variety of occupations and a range of ages. In order to meet children’s and young peoples diverse needs the play setting should, provide a safe and supportive environment, free from harassment, in which the contribution of all children is valued.