Nine features of the key principles: Play

There is a strong link between children’s learning through play and the impact in later life.

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PDF file: Pre-Birth to Three - Play extract (360 KB)

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PDF file: Pre-Birth to Three guidance (2.3 MB)

Watch the DVD chapter and video interviews

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Video 1 - Pre-Birth to Three DVD: Play

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Play is one of the nine features of the Key Principles in practice.

Video 2 - Doctor Maria Robinson: Play

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Maria Robinson, lecturer, counsellor, trainer and advisor in early years development, discusses the importance of play.

Video 3 - Doctor Rosemary Roberts: Schemas

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Freelance early years consultant and trainer Rosemary Roberts discusses schemas - repeating patterns of behaviour.

Develop your practice


Reflection and action

  • What do you think is meant by risk and challenge in the context of play? Identify and reflect upon how children experience risk and challenge through play in your setting.

  • How could you introduce new challenges and enhance children’s understanding and management of risk through play?

Case study

Joe is 28 months old and attends an early years setting for four sessions per week. He has made friends with a few children and has formed a good relationship with his key person Susan.

Joe likes to be active and recently he has been spending a great deal of time with construction materials, building towers and stacking objects.

Susan has observed that Joe likes to continue his building and stacking activities across all the different areas within the playroom.

Gradually, Susan has noticed that Joe seems to be doing the same thing every day almost out of habit. There no longer appears to be excitement, challenge or progression in his play.


What should Susan do?

Signpost to research

A recent finding of the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study was that children who regularly take part in a wide range of activities and whose parents rate these as very important have higher cognitive ability scores at the age of 34 months than children who experience fewer activities and whose parents attach less importance to them.

Scottish Government (2009) Growing Up in Scotland: Theimpact of children’s early activities on cognitive development, Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

See also:

Play Scotland: Promoting Children and Young People’s Right to Play in Scotland, which includes publications and research

Related documents

Other websites

  • Play Talk Read

    This website helps promote health and brain development by offering advice and ideas for interacting with very young children.

  • Play Scotland

    Organisation whose work promotes children's and young people's right to play.