3-2 | Reflective Playwork: For All Who Work with Children

Book Review

Reflective Playwork: For All Who Work with Children

Jacky Kilvington and Ali Wood
London: Continuum, 2010. Images, index. 169 pp. $28.84 paper. ISBN: 9780826497642

by Wendy Russell

First Paragraph:

I am told that playwork, either as a job or as a way of working with children, is not a familiar concept in the United States. It is certainly a contested one in the United Kingdom (U.K.), perhaps because playworkers have to contend with a number of contradictions not faced by others working with children and young people. Playworkers in the U.K. work with school-aged children (approximately from four-or five-years-old to fifteen-years old), and their relationships with children at play aim to be more egalitarian than the standard expert-to-novice relationships within most forms of children's work. Playwork principles call for the playworker to support children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play. And play, as Jacky Kilvington and Ali Wood point out in the opening pages of their book Reflective Playwork, is something that children mostly prefer to do away from the eyes of adults. As if that does not provide enough of a contradiction, working with the playwork principles' definition of play as a process that is freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated raises all sorts of questions about power and control, purpose and benefit, even about childhood itself.