Playwork and Professional Development

Playworkers help to create adventurous but safe spaces in which children can play. These spaces allow children to engage in self-directed and open-ended play, and playworkers are a watchful presence to help facilitate play and assist when necessary, as opposed to directing activities.

Playworkers also engage in observation and reflection. By examining reasoning and emotions in interventions and restrictions, it enables personal and professional development that can further support play.


Risk, Benefit Assessment

An important part of playwork involves acknowledging the child’s right to play which may involve some risk-taking. Risk taking allows children to learn valuable lessons about themselves and the world around them. These valuable lessons help to build their capacity for resilience.

A risk, benefit assessment includes differentiating between hazards, harm and risk. It includes assessing situations from various points of view including the conditions of the play, materials, and the ability of the individual child. The aim of weighing these moments is to ensure a more comprehensive understanding of the situation while not dismissing play opportunities that could have important benefits for that child.

Read The risk-benefit equation of challenging playgrounds from Child In The City

Playwork Principles

Playwork Principles were developed by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, convened by Play Wales and adopted by SkillsActive in 2005. These principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork and, as such, must be regarded as a whole. They describe what is unique about play and playwork, and are based on the recognition that children and young people’s capacity for development will be enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities.

Read them in full here

Playwork Primer

Read the Playwork Primer by Penny Wilson, to learn about what playworkers do to enrich outdoor play opportunities for children.

Outdoor Education and Playwork Professional Development

popup adventure play

POP-UP Adventure Play

Pop-up Adventure Play offers a Playworker Development Course that brings together people from all over the world, giving them the tools, tasks and mentorship they need to become effective and confident playworkers. They draw on the very best of the UK playwork field as well as their own international “pop-up” practice, bringing in experts to serve as course tutors and mentors.

It is 100% online and includes invitation to a private forum, where students can discuss their experiences in putting theory into practice.

Learn more

child nature alliance

Child and Nature Alliance of Canada

Child and Nature Alliance aims to foster meaningful connections with the outdoors for children and youth. All children and youth should have the opportunity to play and learn in forests, parks, meadows and mud puddles.

They work to connect children and youth with nature through policy, research, and practice.

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forest school

Forest School Canada

Forest School Canada is the flagship educational project of the Child and Nature Alliance. They provide evidence-based, practical, and inspiring professional learning opportunities for everyone interested in supporting the healthy development of children through play and learning outside.

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pine project

The p.i.n.e Project

The p.i.n.e. project’s mission is to build healthy communities deeply connected to the natural environment.
To achieve this they deliver programs focused on building relationships between self, others, and the environment. Using music, drama, storytelling, naturalist studies, stewardship, survival skills, outdoor adventures, intergenerational learning, games, and play we weave a “culture of nature connection”. This empowers our mantra: be more, need less.

p.i.n.e Project also offers various Adult programs such as Introduction to Nature Mentoring.

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Evergreen has various Outdoor learning and Play projects and also has a database of online tools.

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Get in touch!

For more information on our Playwork training programs or to inquire about hosting a POP-UP Adventure Playground, please email or call EcoKids at 416-599-1991 and ask to speak with a member of our Play team.

More Research and Resources related to Outdoor Education and Playwork here.