• Karen McInnes
  • J Howard
The evidence summary for the Play Strategy states that ‘play is believed to provide children with the opportunity to develop a sense of wellbeing (DCSF, 2008, p1). However, the evidence linking play and wellbeing is limited. One possible reason for this is that the concepts of both play and wellbeing are difficult to define, making isolation and subsequent measurement problematic. Convincing evidence demonstrating the value of play for enhancing children’s cognitive ability has resulted from studies based on children’s own views about what it means to play and utilising these views to create play or non-play experimental conditions. In these studies, despite an activity remaining constant, when children perceived the activity as play, performance was significantly improved (e.g. McInnes et al, 2009). This presentation describes research that follows this same paradigm and measures indicators of wellbeing exhibited in activities children have defined as either play or not play. Activity type remained constant and a total of 144 activity episodes were observed in children aged 3.5 years to 5.9 years. Well being was measured using the Leuven Scale (Laevers, 1994). Higher levels of involvement and a greater frequency of behaviours suggestive of emotional wellbeing were present when children approached an activity as play, rather than not play. This paper will raise delegate awareness of: • The difficulties associated with measuring the benefits of play • The notion of play as an approach to task • The importance of listening to children’s views about their play
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jan 1990
Event Playing into the Future – The 50th anniversary world conference of the International Play Association - Cardiff
Duration: 4 Jul 20114 Jul 2011


Conference Playing into the Future – The 50th anniversary world conference of the International Play Association

    Research areas

  • play, wellbeing, children’s perceptions

ID: 116505