First blog post

Welcome to OutLET’s first blog post!

I thought I would use this to introduce myself and really outline all that I hope OutLET will be, so first thing’s first…… I’m Jackie – a play enthusiast.

My background is really varied. I spent 8 years in the Royal Navy and now I’ve been self-employed for 2 years taking early years music sessions in nurseries throughout Lanarkshire. I am also undertaking my Level 3 Forest School Leader training and am lucky enough to be delivering outdoor play sessions for the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership and South Lanarkshire Ranger Service over the school holidays. I chair Little Pips Outdoor Play, which I’m sure I will talk about more at a later date and I’m also a mum to a 3 (nearly 4) year old.

I’ll be honest, I’m not an expert on play in any way but I’m keen to learn as much as I can about not only facilitating play but also how we can get the message about the benefits of play out there for all to see.

The idea for Outdoor Learning, Education and Training РOutLET  came to me just 2 days ago.

This will be a place to not only find out what is happening locally, but to hear from people who are right at the forefront of the play revolution. I hope to have some guest bloggers come on board such as practitioners, academics and people who are really making a difference on the ground so they can share their experiences with us.

I want to ensure that we have the knowledge to be able to explain the importance of play to anyone who asks (and anyone who doesn’t).

For OutLET to be all that I hope it can be I will need your help – If you have something to say about play then please get in touch.

You could talk about what you are doing, projects you are running or even ideas you have for overcoming any barriers to play that you have experienced.

I would also love to hear about any play events that you are organising – especially if they are open to the public. I’m happy to share and help advertise your events.

Thanks for joining us, and I look forward to learning with you.



Play – What is it?

Thanks for joining me on my journey to learn more about play.

A question that is often asked at many types of play training is ‘What is your earliest memory of play?’ A lot of people think back and for them it’s a memory of being outside – climbing trees, playing ‘kirby’ or jumping in muddy puddles before being told to come in when the street lights came on. I look back and like to think that this is also a reflection of my childhood, but it isn’t. I enjoyed my childhood, it was great and I look back on it fondly, but it wasn’t the same as my parents’ generation. Something changed. I don’t know whether the world was suddenly viewed as unsafe, or whether it was the beginning of ‘structured extracurricular activities’ but outdoor play was as high on the list of things to do, so there was less emphasis on actually doing it. There is evidence suggesting that both of these play a part in the decline of play – but it’s a complex topic and one for another time.


I suppose a good first question to ask is simply- What is Play? It’s a word that’s used often but what does it actually mean?

Play is not a new concept, archeological, historical, anthropological and sociological research into children’s play shows that play is found throughout human societies but actually defining play is difficult.

‘Play Scotland’ suggest that ‘Play is the universal language of children’¬† – I don’t disagree with this but to me it feels like just words.

The definition which I feel makes the most sense is from the redrafted ‘Playwork Principles’

“Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is,children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.” (NCB,2009)

No matter how you choose to describe it – there is literally tons of research out there showing that play is vital – and not just for children.


From what I can see – in Lanarkshire anyway (as that is where I live), play is starting to make a come back with all outdoor natural play events selling out quickly.
This is such a positive sign and I hope momentum keeps up.
I feel the best way to ensure this happens it to have the knowledge to really push the benefits of play (more than ‘play is amazing and we all need to do it’ – which is where i’m currently at).

So it’s time for me to get reading!

The good news is that I’ve managed to get some fantastic guest bloggers on board who are at the forefront of delivering play in Scotland – I’m excited to read about their first hand knowledge and experiences.

In case you want to read any of the research, blogs and websites that I found my information on… here’s what i read prior to this blog.
‘What is Play?’ – Play Scotland
‘The Importance of Play’ – Dr David Whitebread
‘What is Play Work?’ – Children’s Play and Information Service – National Children’s Bureau (2009) – http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/124806/no.14_what_is_playwork.pdf