Play is a child's work
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The aim of this study was to investigate the role of play for preschool children through an exploration and comparison of the views and perceptions of childcare practitioners and play therapists. There were three objectives in the study which were investigated and examined. The first objective was to establish the views and perceptions of professionals on the different types of play which can be relevant for children in the preschool setting. The second objective examined the perspectives of play therapists on the benefits which play and play therapy has for children in the preschool years. Then finally, the third objective sought to explore the views of professionals on the Aistear curriculum and Síolta framework in relation to their relevance for play in the preschool setting. This study was conducted to investigate the benefits of different types of play for children. This, then, was with the hope of furthering the knowledge of professionals on what works well with children, and what can be developed in order to make it an even more holistically beneficial for each child. Comparing the views of childcare practitioners and play therapists proved an insightful mechanism for ascertaining the view of both groups, in terms of working with children. This showed some similarities and differences in the ways they work with children and highlights what changes could be made in order to improve their system. This is the main justification for this research study. The study was conducted using a qualitative method, in the form of semi-structured interviews. The interviews were held individually in the participant’s work places and were audio-recorded, and transcribed. The results were analysed using a thematic analysis identifying four themes; which related to types of play, play and play therapy, the holistic child and then finally Aistear and Síolta. The results indicated that the childcare practitioners and play therapist had the same views about play and the benefits from it. The study proved that there still is plenty of room for advancement, development and progression in the practical work of both childcare practitioners and play therapists. More findings were in relation to the usage of a child-centered approach in the childcare sector as the play therapist only uses this. Free play was another aspect which could be implemented more however from the 9 study it shows that even in the past year it is being put into more and more practice with the children. This study opens up an opportunity to further different aspects of play to benefit children’s learning through play. By comparing the views of the childcare practitioners and the play therapist it becomes clear to see where there are similarities and then differences. What the play therapist finds most beneficial, sand for example, the childcare practitioners only use it as another tool, or another thing that the children just play with. The same goes for the childcare practitioners using the outdoor environment on a regular basis whereas the play therapist wouldn’t use it at all. There could be a learning curve here by comparing their views, you could see if either one could learn from the other by the benefits they find it has on the children.