2017 Conference Theme


While there is growing evidence of the importance of play in early childhood development we can see human play coming under threat in many of our early childhood settings and communities. Questions are raised about the fundamental impact this may have on children’s development and how this is compatible with the UN Convention which should have secured the child’s right to play. 

This theme we hope will encourage delegates to explore the challenges and benefits of implementing a play-based pedagogy throughout the foundation years and early primary schooling. It will explore established and innovative strategies for supporting children’s learning and natural desire to play. We also hope it will highlight children’s need to experience adventure, challenge and risk taking through their play and consider how the significant adults, both professional and parent, can create exciting playful environments, which allow or ‘afford’ the development of those essential characteristics and dispositions which lead to a more balanced life.

It will explore a number of hotly contested issues such as: How is child development and learning shaped through play? What are the social, emotional and cognitive benefits of play? How is play perceived in different cultures and communities? How can play promote adventure, risk and challenge? How might we observe and intervene in children’s play? What makes for a playful environment? How does play support a child with particular needs?

These and other issues will form the dialogic basis of this exciting, participatory and democratic conference in which all are encouraged to be playful, adventurous, give voice and share power in a creative and challenging forum.