PARS 2023 Conference October 14th

Our Speakers

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Talking Circles

    Talking circles are designed to encourage children to ask questions about their social purpose and how they can make a difference. In the Talking Circle children explore and play with ideas and concepts through talking and listening. The ‘talking circle’ framework is characterised by ancient wisdom and systems thinking where shared learning spaces for diverse individuals are created in order for the group to build relationships and make the connections. This means individually share what each other knows so that together they can act as a ‘whole’ to co-create new opportunities and innovative ideas.

    The facilitator provides the time and space for children to talk about the things that matter to them. The children are co-constructors of knowledge in partnership with the facilitator, giving them control over the agenda of the talking circle, which in turn, encourages them to become creators of their own future.

    Jennifer and Marilyn foreground critical reflection as both a research approach and a tool for professional development. They received federal funding to develop a resource for workplace capacity building through critical reflection Leading Learning Circles for Educators engaged in Study and this is used in the children’s services sector. Simultaneously Jennifer and Marilyn to develop a resource to use with children, Talking Circles. In this presentation they will share the value of and the process for using Talking Circles with all ages of children.

    Image of Childhood: The Mongolian Context

    Capable, competent and full of potential: words we may use to describe the child. Freedom,
    independence and opportunity: words we may use to refer to the nomadic lifestyle. This
    presentation investigates nomadic traditions and beliefs to understand the image of
    childhood in Mongolia. Culture, language and the natural environment merge to provide
    children with opportunities to learn and develop free from adult-defined boundaries. The
    end result is confidence, agency and empowerment. Questions explored during this
    presentation include:
    -How might the nomadic lifestyle shape the image of childhood in Mongolia?
    -How might changes and urbanization present new opportunities for children’s learning?
    -What learnings might we take away from the Mongolian image of childhood?

    Developing Australia’s first Certificate III in Outside School Hours Care


    In Australia, there are no nationally agreed or consistent approaches to qualifications for the Out of School sector. Instead, qualifications for the sector are mandated at a jurisdictional level by State and Territory governments. Due to a lack of sector-specific entry-level qualifications, ‘early childhood’ studies have frequently been accessed to qualify educators for work in OSHC.

    Significant reforms to these early childhood qualifications have resulted in them no longer being considered fit for purpose as a vocational placement for students undertaking these courses and working in the Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) sector. As a result, the Queensland Children’s Activities Network were approved by the Australian Skills Quality Authority to develop the country’s first Certificate III in Outside School Hours Care.

    This presentation will discuss the process for developing an OSHC specific Certificate III Accredited Course under the Australian Qualifications Framework including the packaging requirements for accreditation.

    The right to a bruise: connecting the work of Janusz Korczak to children’s risk-taking in play

    In my PhD research I am investigating influencing factors on professional attitudes towards children’s risk-taking in play. Pedagogical foundations can play an important role in the beliefs playwork practitioners develop towards challenging play. I will introduce the principles of the Polish educationalist Janusz Korczak, a doctor in Poland at the beginning of the 20th century. He was known as a pedagogue and principal of an orphanage where he organized initiatives with children focusing on their responsibility. Korczak formulated several children’s rights, long before the United Nations did. One of these is the right of a child to his own death: ‘From fear that death will take our child away, we deprive our child his life; because we do not want it to die, we will not allow it to live’ (Korczak, 1984, p 50). This is not to take literally, Korczak state adult’s perception of risk in play may be based on fear, and sometimes they see dangers that are not there. We will discuss dilemmas on facilitating children’s risk-taking in play and how children’s rights and pedagogy can give playworkers a foundation to their daily practice.

    Martin is appointed to the board of the International Journal of Playwork Practice, member of the Dutch branch of the IPA (International Play Association), member of the Special Interest Group Outdoor Play & Learning of the EECERA (European Early Childhood & Education Research Association) and has built up an international network towards the subject of ‘risky play’. Martin published articles in several Dutch professional journals and is co-author on the ‘Position paper on Risky Play’ in collaboration with the Dutch Consumer Safety Institute (2017). He also  contributed on the discussion paper ‘Advancing Outdoor Play and Early Childhood Education’ from the Canadian Lawson Foundation (2019).

    Disrupting Childhood: A playful hunt for childness in historical and sociology contexts

    Ambert (1986) commented on the near absence of studies on children in mainstream sociology. Since then, a number of key strands have emerged from historical and sociological research into children and childhood, specifically the concepts of childhood as a social construct; children as agents and structural approaches to children as citizens (Mayall, 2013).  Drawing on PhD research from 2017 and an evolving interest in playwork as a ‘missing in action’ field for mainstream sociology, this paper examines the potential of post-structural and feminist paradigms for turning a critical lens on the importance of playwork in research which is pro-child in the sense of constructing children as active citizens who should have a voice in society, political decision making and matters pertaining to social justice. The methods used are primarily auto ethnographic, drawing on stories of play both contemporary and historical with the stated intention of disrupting thinking, including my own assumptions, about the role of research, researchers and dominant discourses in work and play with children and young people. Findings relate to the possibility of (re)viewing, by which I mean looking again, at children as a social group in their own right, with the same complex personhoods and intersectionality’s as groups of adults made visible by research and social activism. The aim is not to discount other ways of accounting for childhood but to make them more visible in order to consider new possibilities for enactments of social practices in spaces in which adults and children encounter one another.

    Benefits of play in children's lives

    As the research stacks up about the benefits of play in children’s lives, the programs available to make authentic, child-led play available to all children are woefully lacking. One solution is to ensure that the play and playwork curriculum is an essential component in the preparation of teacher candidates. This presentation describes a covid-inspired PARS training / Forest School Practicum that provided a unique opportunity for university teacher candidates to learn the PARS model and practice “playwork in the woods” with local children. 

    The Childist Imagination

    Marginalized groups in societies, whether by gender, race, class, disability, or in other ways, often seek to overcome their historical disempowerment by developing systemic critiques of wider social norms. For the most part, however, while children and youth are also a marginalized group in many respects, there is no widespread movement either in academia or societies to make similar critiques of adultist or patriarchal systems. This presentation develops a concept of childism, in analogy to (and learning from) feminism, antiracism, and the like, that can build on critical childhood studies to provide a lens for the systematic critique of social and scholarly norms and structures in response to the diversely lived experiences of children. The result is a powerful tool, not only for understanding children’s lives, but also for transforming the larger societal contexts that underpin their invisiblization but also their potential for greater inclusion.

    Ada Wong

    Ada Wong has 15 years experience of providing training in various kindergartens, professional bodies, tertiary institute, NGOs and government departments. She holds a Certificate in Hospital Play and has visited adventure playgrounds around the world. Ada is currently working with EUHK in Hong Kong to develop PARS training in higher education.

    Rarni Rothwell

    Rarni is an educational leader who spent most of her 26 year career working out of a school based service in South East Queensland, Australia. Since beginning an Action Research journey in 2010, she has relished in sharing the profound insights this unique form of professional development offers across various formal and informal formats. Since mid-2014 Rarni has explored her fascinations including reconnecting children with nature, capacity building through risk, embedding sustainable practices and the magic of playwork in a slightly different off-the-wall context. Rarni enjoys regularly collaborating, advocating and playing with her colleagues from across all early childhood education and care service types and has the pleasure of working as Lead Trainer for the Queensland Children’s Activities Network, Australia.

    Rebekah Jackson

    Rebekah Jackson is a childcare, early years and playwork consultant and trainer with over 15 years of experience supporting the development of children’s childcare and out of school settings in both England and Wales. Rebekah stumbled across playwork early in her career working with children and young people and completed her MA in Play and Playwork at University of Gloucestershire. Rebekah founded her company The Bold Type Ltd after working as childcare strategic lead for a council in Wales. She is a trustee for Wrexham Youth and Play Partnership and a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Playwork Practice.

    Zheng Qian (Caron)

    QIAN Zheng (Caron) 钱铟 is the founder of the Shanghai Playwork Fund, Shanghai United Foundation. She was first introduced to playwork in 2015 when she undertook the Certificate of Playwork Practice in Hong Kong. Caron is now working to bring the PARS model to people who work with children across China by organizing and delivering PARS tailor-made training courses and PARS Masterclasses. She is also developing playwork projects in local communities to provide time and space for children to enjoy more free play. Caron obtained her Masters degree in Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights at University College London (UCL).

    Dr Shelly Newstead

    Dr Shelly Newstead created the PARS playwork model as part of her doctoral research at the UCL Institute of Education, London, and has been appointed as an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane Australia. Shelly has worked in the playwork field for nearly thirty years as a practitioner, trainer, author, editor, publisher and researcher. She is the Series Editor for Advances in Playwork Research (Routledge) and the Managing Editor of International Journal of Playwork Practice. She is also currently the President of the International Council for Children’s Play (ICCP) and her research interests include the history of playwork and the development of empirical evidence about playwork practice. Shelly is also the author of the popular Busker’s Guide to Playwork which has sold over 12,000 copies worldwide and is now also available in Japanese.

    Norwegian context of out of school care and activities

    Ellen will give a brief presentation of the Norwegian context of out of school care and activities, what professions that work in these contexts, their background and competencies, how they are trained and the Norwegian view on the need for professionalizing these contexts.

    How has the theory of the Play Cycle supported professional practice?

    In 1998, Sturrock and Else (1998) within their conference paper ‘The Colorado Paper’ proposed a hierarchy of adult intervention to support children’s play.  This hierarchy was play maintenance, simple involvement, medial intervention and complex intervention.  In 2017, King and Newstead (2019, 2020) undertook two empirical studies, firstly on playworkers and secondly with childcare workers to study their understanding of the Play Cycle.  One aspect was how has the Play Cycle supported professional practice.  This presentation will outline the results of this study and offer a way for practitioners to record children’s Play Cycles using the Play Cycle Observation Method (PCOM) (King, 2020, King, Atkins and Burr, 2020).