Our definition of play is 'A physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective'. There are other areas of human activity that may also be defined in this way hence the need for contextual elaboration.
For our purposes ‘play’ may assist learning and self development. It can be undertaken by individuals or groups of children spontaneously or as part of a planned activity. There isn’t any intervention so there is no need for clinical supervision, quality management, code of ethics or adult training. The only concern is that there is a physically safe environment. A question often raised today is whether children know how to play. This is probably a philosophical question since children's play is a natural activity essential for their healthy development. It may be that children play differently from their forebears.
Neuroscience research confirms the importance of play for infants in developing children's brains and minds. It has also been shown that exposure to metaphor and symbols, as used in play, has a beneficial effect upon the development of the brain. Indeed the use of metaphor, as in symbolic and fantasy play is the most powerful form of communication.
See also: Play Work, Therapeutic Play, Filial Therapy, Play Therapy, Child Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology (CPCP) & The Play Continuum