It is our pleasure to publish the latest Children's Research Digest on the theme of "Children and Young People's play". Research continues to highlight the significant contribution of play-based practice to children’s learning and development. However play opportunities for children in early childhood, primary school and beyond continue to be under threat from perceived pressure to introduce more formal and directive approaches (Emer Ring).
This volume is a testament to the idea that what the forces at play in children’s lives, those working for and with them, are a force of good in their lives. By taking time, as that is often what is needed, to listen to children and to act on what they say, adults can make a significant difference to children’s lives. The articles also indicate how changes in legislation and thinking can ensure children’s lives do involve more opportunities for them to act on their agency with and participate in decisions about their lives, in all settings. Despite such provision, the recently launched Ireland 2040, a framework for development for Ireland mentions children just a handful of times. It remains the case that in relation to national policy it does seem they are only considered in times of needs, such as early childhood, mental health and early school leaving. Reference to children in their everyday situations, particularly in relation to their roles in decision making about their lives in their communities and schools.
This lack of children’s voice, agency and action includes their role in decision making about their local environments, the papers in this volume show the importance of listening to children and the power of the process of participation in play and education. The pages within this volume area are a treasure trove of what can be for the lives of our young people, whether at home, child care or school. Across the articles the research, whether in large scale national studies or smaller scale qualitative projects, reveals the agency of the youngest citizens of Ireland to be imaginative, creative and playful.
We are delighted to have Susan Pike from DCU as guest editor on this important volume of the Digest. Furthermore, we would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the production and publishing of this digest.