Play is of critical importance to the well-being of children across the globe, a fact reflected in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet existing literature on the subject is largely confined to discussing play from a developmental, educational or psychological perspective. Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective offers a new and exciting angle from which to view play, drawing on the authors’ own experience of conducting research into various aspects of this all-important and pervasive phenomenon.  

This innovative work will act as a compass for those looking to undertake research into different aspects of play and child welfare. Each chapter explores how the author has combined established and new research methodologies with their individual playwork approaches to arrive at emergent understandings of playwork research. The overall conclusion discusses directions for future research and develops a new model of playwork research from the four common themes that emerge from the contributions of individual authors: children’s rights, process, critical reflection, and playfulness. Examples from the United Kingdom, Nicaragua, and Sweden give this unique work international relevance.

Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective will appeal to researchers and students around the world working in the fields of playwork, childcare, early years, education, psychology and children’s rights. It should also be of interest to practitioners in a wide variety of professional contexts, including childcare and therapy.

chapter |7 pages


ByPete King, Shelly Newstead

chapter 1|17 pages

Why the playworker’s mind-set is ideal for research with children

Child researchers investigate education rights in Nicaragua
ByHarry Shier

chapter 2|14 pages

Playwork research as the art of ‘mirroring’

ByShelly Newstead

chapter 3|17 pages

Nomadic wonderings on playwork research

Putting a dialectical and ethnographic methodology to work again
ByWendy Russell

chapter 4|17 pages

Researching children’s play as a playworker-ethnographer

ByHannah Smith Brennan

chapter 5|17 pages

Playing at research

Playfulness as a form of knowing and being in research with children
ByPhilip Waters

chapter 6|19 pages

Process, participation and reflection

How playwork practice influenced a mixed-methods approach to researching children’s perception of choice in their play
ByPete King

chapter |6 pages


ByPete King, Shelly Newstead