Play for Children with Special Needs: Supporting Children with Learning Differences, 3-9

Play for Children with Special Needs: Supporting Children with Learning Differences, 3-9

Play for Children with Special Needs: Supporting Children with Learning Differences, 3-9

Play for Children with Special Needs: Supporting Children with Learning Differences, 3-9


There are many more children with learning differences and difficulties in our schools today. Their needs are varied and complex and professionals must find appropriate ways to enhance their learning. The value of play is endorsed in policy initiatives including The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, so professionals can be reassured that 'more time to play' is in line with the latest thinking.

Christine Macintyre emphasises the importance of creating an environment where children become confident, independent learners, increasingly able to use their imaginations, care for others and to take safe risks. This fully revised edition of Play for Children with Special Needsincludes new research findings and explains their implications for practice.

This book then enables those supporting children to:

  • understand the benefits of play and how to adapt different scenarios to support children who do not find it easy to play
  • observe children as they play so that any difficulties can be identified early
  • analyse different play areas so that the different kinds of learning (intellectual, creative, motor, social and emotional) are appreciated.

Play for Children with Special Needs, 2ndeditionenables practitioners to appreciate the contribution that play makes to the education of all children, whether they have special needs or not. It is for parents, teachers, teaching assistants and nursery professionals as well as those who care for children at home.


Having read and digested Christine Macintyre’s excellent book Play for Children with Special Needs, my memory was drawn to the lectures of Professor Stanley Unwin which were broadcast on bbc radio over twenty years ago. He shared some similarities with Christine: his ideas were always passionately delivered and utterly convincing. Very few listeners would switch off once the professor began to speak, enjoying his enthusiasm to explain the complicated. He had a self-confidence and belief in what he was saying and was eager to share and define his philosophy with those who did not know or understand. However, there the similarities end.

After 5 or 10 minutes of Unwin’s broadcast, it began to dawn upon the listener that the professor was talking complete rubbish. He used phrases that were muddled, sentences that were confusing and words that did not exist. All his ideas were incredibly obtuse and essentially everything he said was utterly meaningless. He was a comedian. the audience enjoyed being duped. Christine Macintyre is certainly none of the above!

It has been a pleasure to come across the second edition of Christine’s book. No over-complicated new Ofsted pilot scheme documents here. No ‘pie in the sky and cake tomorrow’ touch by this fine educationalist. Rather than mincing flowery words with pretentious proposals, she focuses upon play, learning difficulties and the central issues of early years education. From the outset it is clear that this book is one for the reader, grounded in actual learning environments and situations, and not merely an outpouring of research championing the academic prowess of the author.

It is, of course, founded upon sound academic findings, but at every turn the child, the home and/or the school setting is the central focus. There is a snap in Macintyre’s writing that cuts through the jargon and platitudes associated with many education books. Her succinct style gives pace to the book; she makes her point and moves on:

Listen to Brooklyn who is a nursery nurse …
Watch the children …
Try to avoid minor upsets so that the child’s name is not always being called out.
For children who cannot focus, try this …
What do we actually do to support dyspraxic children?
How do we differentiate between work and play?

Macintyre’s poem ‘Please Give Me Time’ is a stunning beginning to this book. I can think of none better, a manifesto for time, space, adaptability and understanding in a . . .

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