Developing resilience through play – 18 September 2019 – Hastings Resilience Forum

Developing resilience through play – 18 September 2019 – Hastings Resilience Forum

Topic  Developing resilience through play – Chris Smethurst and Becky Edwards

Resources  You can download the Forum slides and watch this short summary video:

Session Summary  “Resilience,” has become a buzzword throughout education, early years and children’s services. It underpins the growing focus on health and well-being for children of all ages with the growing expectation that teachers and professionals will include the development of resilience as part of the support and education they offer. Research shows that resilience is neither a rare trait (Bonnano 2004) nor unusual (Masten 2014), but for children today it is often masked by the anxiety and stress caused by growing up in a fast-paced digital age where concepts of “being, becoming and belonging,” (Wilcock 1999) have been superceded by concepts of “doing,” (Wilcock 1999), “busyness,” (Hochschild 2000), popularity and social acceptance.

As professionals it is possible to promote resilience in the children we work with (Fletcher and Sarkar, 2012), play is an integral part of this process. Child development theorists understand that play is the way children learn to make sense of the world around them (Vygotsky 1978, Bruner 1976, Moyles 1991, Bruce 1991) but it is also a powerful and simple tool which can be used to support the development of resilience. This workshop provided practical strategies, underpinned by theories and concepts, to support the development of resilience through play in children and young people.


Chris Smethhurst - Play Resilience ForumChris Smethurst is co-director of the Institute of Education Health and Social Sciences at the University of Chichester. With a background in social work, community work and youth work, Chris has had an interest in the area of ‘resilience’ for the past 20 years. Initially focused on workforce stress and emotional labour, Chris began delivering resilience sessions because he felt these issues had been neglected in professional training programmes. He soon discovered that the ideas he discussed appeared to have resonance for a range of professionals and, perhaps unsurprisingly, carers, parents, children and individuals facing a range of adversities. Chris hopes that the work he does in this area is grounded in practicality and focused on the real experiences of real people.

Becky Edwards - Play Resilience ForumBecky Edwards is a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of Chichester. Becky is a qualified primary school teacher, specialising in working with children with special educational needs and disability, with a particular focus on children with ASD, has run a Children’s Centre, taught in nurseries in America and Germany and is an award-winning children’s author. After completing a module on resilience for her MA, Becky quickly realised the potential for developing resilience through play. She began to introduce this idea into the workshops she delivers at early years conferences and as professional development training in settings. Becky combines key concepts of resilience with practical ideas for play activities, giving practitioners tools to use with the children and young people they work with.

Chris and Becky have been running resilience workshops and trainings together for the past two years. They hope that their interactive session will be informative, interesting and entertaining. No prior knowledge necessary.

Who might be most interested  Academics, practitioners, researchers, students, parents, carers, community workers, volunteers, public sector workers and young people.

This event took place on Wednesday 18 September 2019.

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