Since setting up Brighton’s Flying Seagull Project 11 years ago, he’s met over 130,000 kids, bringing laughter to slum communities in Ghana, gangs in Cambodia, Syrian refugees and many, many more. And he wants to make sure that ‘as many kids as possible feel the sparkle where the imagination and physical body combine in play’. His book, The Real Play Revolution is out now.
“The time has come for change. Play is not just a flippant extra, it is an essential part of development, yet so often it’s pushed to the side in pursuit of grading standards in schools, or screen time and dealing with hardships at home.
Your children need to know that though life can be stressful and difficult it doesn’t have to take over. Dark clouds can always be pierced with a strong enough ray of light. More importantly, being silly removes the veil of needing to be perfect. This almost obsessive editing of our lives to look perfect and appear infallible is dangerous. I want to try to remove that pressure and find a bit of acceptance for our weaknesses as well as our strengths.
Confidence is a big issue – sometimes parents and teachers aren’t too sure and feel daft. In this book I encourage a feeling of daftness! Times are tough for many families, but my message is that you don’t need huge amounts of stuff. You just need you, some loving energy and a willingness to honour your children with some decent play. These games have been played with no props, no shared words, and without even a proper place to play, But the feeling stays the same. FUN!
Silliness seems to be a very popular choice of approach for most kids. They do mad voices, silly faces, confident that the experience is as valuable as the result. By encouraging silliness you inadvertently encourage their personalities and make a natural landscape for their confidence to flourish.”
Ash Perrin is the founder of The Flying Seagull Project and author of The Real Play Revolution (Watkins £12.99). theflyingseagullproject.com
- Real play is not patronising. It’s an honest exchange. This means sometimes the parents win!
- Real play is really high in energy. Uncomfortable for most adults, but the language of children. To honour them we have to find the boost!
- Real play is cheeky and playful and allows for mischievous personalities.
- Real Play includes everyone and is arranged so that all levels of ability and understanding can find a place.
- Real play is not competitive or laden with pressure. The purpose is not to be the best but to have the best time.
- Real play is loving, and whatever the final result, win or lose, come first or last, it always ends with a smile.
Real Play Games
Take everything out put it all back in again
Standing in front of an invisible box each person has to empty the contents as fast as possible shouting what it is as they do. Everything that has ever existed or could ever exist is in that box and it needs to be emptied. You have one minute. It should be loud and brain frying. Once empty, you have to put it back in in the right order!
Scribble lightning art
Everyone stands at a table and when the music plays they can free form scribble. Numerous pens in one hand is perfectly acceptable. After a slow song, try a fast one. The result can be folded into a zine or book.