Play as a tool for social work students


In this article Peter Ayling proposes that play is a valid tool for teaching social work students better ways to interact with children and young people in order to better understand them, and teaches them so through a series of play experiments they can then use with the children.

765. “Teaching social work students how to utilise a range of basic play skills in their practice can contribute to their increasing effectiveness in communicating with children and young people.”

766. “Their skills in the use of play based methods will both enhance their understanding of children’s developmental needs and provide them with a range of tools to support their subsequent intervention with children and young people.”

766. students are asked to “consider how play might facilitate self-expression”

767. “An experience of utilising non-verbal, symbolic means of communication to convey their feelings and expectations and then to negotiate with others to represent their feelings to each other” – skills instilled in students via hands-on play experience.

767. Children attempting to represent themselves in a visual way (through drawings, models, clay etc.) is how the child “develops an ’embodied’ sense of self, and of understanding their place in a physical environment.”

770. “Younger children need concrete experiences and visual symbols to assist their understanding and expression.”

This is not entirely related to my topic of choice, but it does help to consider how people of different ages react to things, and that perhaps at a base level it is a good idea to cement your game or educational tool with a foundation that could possibly be understood by small children; visually and as simplistically as possible, utilising symbols.


REF: Ayling, P. (2012). Learning through playing in higher education: promoting play as a skill for social work students. Social Work Education, 31, 764-777.


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