Meet Paula Brown, Play therapist. Bristol
I spent a few hours with the lovely Paula this week talking all things to do with play, and taking in a bit of culture as we went. First stop was the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, with its extensive collection of toys and children’s playthings. Beautifully preserved and catalogued with great attention to detail, there’s something to interest everyone here, and a reminder not to throw everything out – there’s history in old puppets, dolls houses, stickle bricks and even the more recent superhero toys. Charming cross stitch crafts caught my eye, as well as the African vehicles made from recycled metal.
While an interesting collection, it was this terracotta sculpture by of a breastfeeding mother that really won my heart. The young mother sits in quiet contemplation as she nurses her child. She sits silently gazing at her baby amidst all these noisy, busy toys and endless schoolchildren walking on by – it’s the very essence of motherhood, to have little choice but to be consumed by that bond whilst the rest of the world carries on around you.
But back to play. We then carried on to the Wellcome Collection on the Euston Road.
“Play Well’ is a temporary exhibition that invites us to explore why play matters, examining the significance of play in childhood and across society at large. It shows us how children learn through play how it helps them develop social bonds, emotional resilience and physical wellbeing. It looks at play’s therapeutic value too. Of course the exhibition is completely interactive, with some special events coming up on half term, so children can really get involved.
It certainly makes you think, so now you’ll find me with my head in this book linked with the exhibition: Michael Rosen’s Book of Play.
With its bright yellow cover and playful tone, it’s the perfect antidote to today’s culture where play seems to be lacking in our daily lives – in a world where school children are drilled on exams, and adults are glued to our phones and screens, this book is here to show us how to put this right – and show us why play matters so much for creativity, resilience and much more.
Go on, play well. It’s a far more entertaining challenge than diets and yoga.
Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green