Information for practitioners

Watch Me Play! is a way of supporting parents or carers and their baby or young child – aged from birth to around eight years old – that promotes child-led play, individual attention from caregivers, and talking with children about their play. Parents or carers are encouraged to provide children with age-appropriate toys and their undivided attention in a quiet environment for regular short times two or more times a week. Parents or carers are also encouraged to talk with the child about their play, and to reflect with another involved adult or professional on their observations of the child’s play and how it felt to be with the child as they played.

Watch Me Play! relies on individual attention for a baby or child. When there are two or more children in the family, parents look for short periods of time they can spend one-to-one with each child. We suggest doing Watch Me Play! for five to 20 minutes about twice a week, more often if possible. Some families, once they start, find they like to do Watch Me Play! more often –with a baby for short periods several times a day, with an older child, whenever they can fit one-to-one time with their child into their daily routines.

Play is universally recognized as one of the first steps children take towards coming to know themselves and the world around them. Receiving their caregiver’s undivided attention with toys and materials that promote imagination and creativity gives opportunities for children to express themselves. In child-led play, letting the child take the lead, as long as what they choose to do is safe, means that adults can learn from the child’s play. Observing the child’s play and how it feels to be with the child while he or she plays can help to bring together adults who are involved with the child to reflect on what is being communicated and how best to go on supporting the child.

Watch Me Play! involves two kinds of talking. Talking with the child about what they do in their play allows feelings and ideas to be put into words. Talking with another adult about the child’s play allows caregivers to reflect on discoveries, delights and changes, and to share any worries. For a professional offering support through Watch Me Play!, this framework for providing sensitive understanding can help to find words for feelings that may never have been expressed or named, at a pace that both child and caregiver can manage. Stories, imaginative ideas, and the repetition inherent in play can help to allow new thoughts and feelings to be gradually assimilated. For children and caregivers who are struggling with experiences that may be felt to be too much to manage, the Watch Me Play! approach can help to indicate the type of further intervention or assessment that may be needed.

Attention and play are complementary: observing with warmth and interest helps to facilitate the child’s play. As a child’s play becomes more focused and meaningful, it becomes easier for adults to remember and think about the child’s communications.

Holding the child in mind is a fundamental aspect of parenting that can be adversely impacted by early anxieties. Children who have experienced early traumas and disruptions may have lacked opportunities to explore their world in play and to feel that adults have them in mind. Watch Me Play! offers children the opportunity to regain a sense of personal agency and to explore their world and their relationships with the confidence that their communications can be taken in and be understood and thought about by the adults caring for them.

Close observation of the child’s communications in play informs the reflection that allows professionals to provide containment and retain a child-focused perspective. For vulnerable children or those who are in transition, close attention to the child’s play can help to bring together professional networks, informing care planning and more tailored support for the child.


Who is Watch Me Play! for?


WMP promotes equality, diversity and inclusion through its focus on learning from each family’s culture and journey. All caregivers looking after a child aged from birth to eight years including mothers, fathers, teenage parents, single parents, same sex parents, transgender parents, kinship carers, foster carers and adoptive parents can be offered support using this approach. Flexible ways of working that include home visits, clinic sessions, online and telephone sessions to meet the needs and wishes of families also promote inclusion.

Feedback suggests that the Watch Me Play! approach was helpful for families with young children during the pandemic. The possibility of accessing support online increased the reach of the programme during the pandemic and also for some families in remote rural areas and those who struggle to access clinics. Practitioners in services that provide home visits can include Watch Me Play! in the approaches they offer to families.


Watch Me Play! can be a first step in support for or engaging with families. A six-to-eight-week-programme of Watch Me Play! with a family can help to indicate the kind of assessment or more intensive intervention that may be helpful.

Feedback from families and practitioners indicates that Watch Me Play! has been found to be helpful in a range of contexts including for children in foster care, children being returned to the care of parents or family members, children in adoptive families and during supervised contact; in antenatal, perinatal, parent-infant and child mental health services; in support for young parents and disadvantaged families; for families with a child with possible developmental delay or difficulty or with emerging neurodiversity; for parents with mild to moderate mental health difficulties and for children with emotional, behavioral or regulation difficulties.

Watch Me Play! is used in services across the UK and in countries including China, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Greece, Japan and South Africa.

Translations of materials into ethnic minority languages will be prioritised in this website so that every family can access them. Please contact us at to request a translation for families you are working with.


Who can provide Watch Me Play! support?


Where services are available, trained practitioners can help families to promote child-led play, to provide individual attention and to talk with their child about their play.

Practitioners applying Watch Me Play! in their work include child-minders, child and adolescent psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, contact supervisors, early years practitioners, educational psychologists, health visitors and specialist health visitors, occupational therapists, parent-infant psychotherapists, perinatal nursery nurses, mental health nurses, school counsellors, social workers, teaching assistants, and women’s refuge workers.

See the Research page for information about evaluations and pilot projects that are underway to find out more about how Watch Me Play! is used and its acceptability to families.


Developing your Watch Me Play! practice


Health visitors, looked after children’s nurses, social workers, supervising social workers, nursery workers, infant mental health specialists and child psychotherapists are well placed to encourage parents and carers to do Watch Me Play! with their babies and young children. Professionals who visit the family home or see families in a clinic setting may be able to use the Watch Me Play! approach during their visits. Foster carers can be supported by supervising social workers and peer support networks as well as by children’s social workers. Infant mental health clinicians may find the Watch Me Play! approach helpful as a first-line intervention or for families on waiting lists.

The Watch Me Play! approach requires careful preparation, time for reflection and note writing, and the support of colleagues and teams.

You will need:

  • At least two years’ experience of work supporting children and families,
  • A good understanding of child development
  • Opportunities to work with parent or carer-child dyads, where children are aged 0-8 years, or, in early years settings and schools, with individual children
  • A room or a suitable quiet space, or the capacity to offer home visits, or work online
  • Time to read the WMP resources
  • Time to write detailed notes on WMP sessions and to check sessions for fidelity to the WMP approach
  • Regular supervision.




It’s important to access supervision when doing Watch Me Play!. Coming closer to the experiences of an infant or young child, and to families with young children can be very rewarding but also can bring challenges. The support and containment of regular supervision, whether individual or in small groups, is needed to sustain practice and support practitioners in this work.

In the work discussion method, a group of four to six practitioners meet regularly with a trained facilitator to discuss their work in detail, reflect on the experience of doing the work and share ideas and learning. This approach is helpful for many Watch Me Play! practitioners.

See the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) website in the Links section to find child psychotherapists who can offer supervision or work discussion groups in your area, or online.

Training and supervising colleagues in order to cascade the WMP approach requires:

  • Experience of Watch Me Play! with five or more families, with children of different ages and families in different situation
  • A good understanding and familiarity with the Watch Me Play! resources
  • Opportunities to shadow or co-train with experienced trainers
  • Regular supervision with an experienced practitioner




The following Watch Me Play! resources may be downloaded for free and shared with family, friends and colleagues by individuals and non-profit organizations, as long as they are not modified in any way and are provided with no charge.

Why Play Matters

This one-page leaflet explains in brief the value of child-led play for development and relationships, different stages of play and the key points for Watch Me Play! Download here.

Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Bengali here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Dutch: Waarom spelen belangrijk here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Japanese here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Mongolian: Тоглох Яагаад Чухал вэ here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Polish Dlaczego zabawa jest istotna here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Portuguese here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Romanian: De ce jocul conteaza here
Download the WHY PLAY MATTERS leaflet in Urdu:  کھیل کیوں اہم ہوتا ہے  here


A short guide to Watch Me Play! for parents and carers

This two-page leaflet explains the potential benefits of individual attention and child-led play and describes five steps in Watch Me Play!, with practical suggestions for each step and feedback from parents and caregivers.

Download here.

Download the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! in Bengali here
Download the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! in Dutch here
Download the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! in French here
Download the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! in Polish here
Download the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! in Urdu here

You can also find our longer 24-page Manual for Parents here – available in English, Chinese, Dutch, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mongolian, Norwegian, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian.

What do Watch Me Play! Practitioners Do?

A two-page leaflet that describes practitioners’ roles and tasks at each stage of the Watch Me Play! approach- Introducing WMP, Preparing for a session, During the session, After the session, Following up, Accessing support and supervision, Training and supervising other practitioners. Download here.

Further Information about Watch Me Play!

This 29-page resource has sections on What WMP is, How WMP can help,
The roles of WMP practitioners, case examples, counter-indications, an overview of relevant child development research, suggested further reading, references and websites. Download here.

Watch Me Play! Practitioner’s Guide to Online Working

This three-page guide draws on feedback and expertise from practitioners supporting families online during the pandemic, living in remote rural locations or those finding it difficult to access services. Download here.

Watch Me Play! Practitioners’ Checklist

Practitioners are encouraged to use this 5-item checklist to monitor their WMP sessions for fidelity to the WMP model. Feedback suggests that applying the WMP approach as it is intended is more likely to be acceptable and helpful for families. Download here.

Watch Me Play! Caregivers’ Interview

This semi-structured interview can be used when working with families who find it helpful to work towards a goal or goal. Goals can be for parents or carers – for example, about their relationship with their child or their confidence in parenting – or about a defined aspect of the child’s development, emotions or behaviour. Download here.

Watch Me Play! Diary

This diary can be used by parents or carers who find it helpful to record something about their Watch Me Play! sessions with their child. The pointers in the diary can also provide a helpful focus on the child’s play and the parent’s experience of their child’s play that practitioners can use when talking with parents or carers after a Watch Me Play! session with the child. Download PDF here. Download editable Word document here.

Watch Me Play! Case Discussion Template

Practitioners can use this three-section template for writing up notes on sessions for supervision or reflective practice discussions. Download PDF here. Download editable Word document here.


Watch Me Play! can also be used as part of support for children in early years settings and schools. The Practitioners’ Guide to Watch Me Play! in early years settings and schools is available on request- please email here to receive this.

The Watch Me Play! approach was developed by Dr Jenifer Wakelyn, a child and adolescent psychotherapist, in collaboration with colleagues in early years, mental health, placement and perinatal services, and services for children with developmental or neurodevelopmental difficulties. Funding from the Tavistock Clinic Foundation supported the dissemination of the approach. Watch Me Play! is now used in services across the UK and in many countries including China, Israel, Italy, Greece and Japan.

Feedback is welcomed and can be emailed here: .


Feedback from practitioners


‘It has been helpful in my practice … engaging through play helps build relationships and trust.’

Watch Me Play! gives an awareness of the child’s perspective… it’s the voice of the child.’

‘I think it is an intervention which is very flexible while going deep in the experience of the families. I have already started to use it as the start of a consultation: useful and valuable!’

‘During Watch Me Play! he becomes noticeably calmer and will sit and focus on playing. This in turn has a calming effect on Mum and she visibly finds joy in his discoveries and enjoyment…”

Watch Me Play! is useful for strengthening the teacher-pupil relationship in pre-school … We got confirmation of the importance of a dedicated   individual space for certain children.

‘A useful intervention to be able to offer to families and carers. It helps to offer reassurance and allay fears around transitions, for example from foster care to special guardianship or adoption.’


Frequently asked questions (Practitioners)


1          Who developed Watch Me Play! and where is it used?

The approach was developed by Dr Jenifer Wakelyn, a child and adolescent psychotherapist with a background in early years education. Funding from the Tavistock Clinic Foundation supported stages in the development and dissemination of the approach. Watch Me Play! has been introduced in China, England, Estonia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Wales, Scotland and Ukraine.


2          What previous experience and training do I need to use Watch Me Play in my work?

Watch Me Play! practitioners usually have two or more years’ experience of working with children and families. A knowledge of baby and child development and training in infant observation are good backgrounds for this approach. For perinatal practitioners, training in baby massage is helpful, as Watch Me Play! is often introduced alongside or following baby massage sessions.

Practitioners starting to use Watch Me Play! should read all the materials in the website and if possible take part in an introduction to Watch Me Play! that explores the benefits of child led play and individual attention, key principles of the approach, and opportunities and barriers to getting started with this type of support with families. Learning to use Watch Me Play! in practice should be supported by supervision. This can be individual supervision or group supervision using the work discussion method, when a group of 4-8 practitioners, facilitated by an experienced supervisor, take turns to describe and discuss their work in detail, contributing to discussion about different contexts and stages in the work and learning from each other.

It is important to be familiar with Watch Me Play! guidance and resources, to re-read them as necessary until you are familiar with them, and to use the checklist for practitioners to check fidelity to the approach. Take a look at the website from time to time to see updated resources and information about research.

For information about trainings in the UK, Israel, Italy and Japan, please email

Information about online trainings organized by the Tavistock Centre is available here.


3          How long is a Watch Me Play! session and how many sessions should we offer?

Watch Me Play! is a flexible approach in which families are encouraged to find what works for them. Some families find a regular time while for others Watch Me Play! may be fitted in as and when time can be found. Play sessions can be from five to twenty minutes. For many parents and carers it can be helpful to start with a shorter time and build up as they see how it goes with their child.

The number of sessions practitioners can offer will depend both on the family’s needs and wishes and the resources in the service. It is often useful to plan around 6 sessions to begin with followed by a review. Goals can be agreed with parents or carers using the Watch Me Play! Caregivers Interview. Sessions can be face to face or online, or a combination. Weekly sessions are ideal to provide continuity, especially in the first 3-4 weeks. It may be helpful to alternate face to face sessions with online sessions, if this makes it more possible to meet regularly.

Some parents and carers have described positive changes after two or three sessions, while for others, more sessions may be needed before changes are evident. If there is no change after six or eight sessions, a different kind of support or further assessment may be needed.


4          Can Watch Me Play! be combined with other approaches?

Watch Me Play! can be introduced as a stand-alone approach, or as a way of finding out more about the needs of a family or child, or as a way of building relationships and confidence before more intensive forms of treatment or assessment can begin. In perinatal settings Watch Me Play! is often introduced following or alongside baby massage, and may be helpful before video interactive approaches are offered. In parent-infant psychotherapy services and CAMHS, Watch Me Play! can be helpful before parent-infant or individual child psychotherapy are offered.

Experienced practitioners can integrate Watch Me Play! with other support to families. In parent-infant support, a Watch Me Play! approach may be helpful in some sessions, alternating with sessions just for the parents to explore wide or deeper issues in the family. When a child is in individual psychotherapy, parents or carers may receive Watch Me Play! support alongside the child’s therapy. Parents’ and carers’ observations and their thoughts about developments and changes in the child’s play can provide a helpful focus for child-centred care planning in professionals’ meeting.


5          Can Watch Me Play! be introduced in groups?

As a form of support for families, Watch Me Play! has been developed as a way for practitioners to support individual parent or carer/infant or child dyads, not in groups. Some of the ideas in Watch Me Play! can be creative and interesting for groups to explore; group activities can be very helpful as an introduction to different types of play and the value and benefits of child-led play and of individual attention for children of all ages.

The practitioner’s support and developing relationship with parents or carers is important for motivation, encouragement and guidance. It provides the context for giving in-the-moment feedback, for validating and showing interest in the caregiver’s reflections, and for facilitating a space to think and reflect together about the child’s play. The attention that practitioners give to parents when talking with them about their child’s play is an important element in Watch Me Play!. Receiving the practitioner’s thoughtful and respectful attention to their thoughts and ideas can help parents to be receptive and available to their child.


6          If it’s difficult to remember what happens in a Watch Me Play! session, is it OK to write notes during the session, or video it ?

Supporting families in Watch Me Play! requires a practitioner’s full attention during the sessions, so video should not be used. In face to face work, notes should be written after the sessions. In online work, brief notes can be taken during a session as the basis from which longer notes can be written up after the session.

Detailed notes written after the session make it possible to remember important moments in the sessions and think through how best to support the family in the next session. Writing a brief note about the session as soon as possible after each session is useful for writing a longer note on the session later. This should include a detailed description what the child does and says, or their vocalisations, how they respond to the parent or carer and to you, what the parent or carer does and says, and what you do and say, and what you and the parent or carer discuss after the play session. Writing in notes with this level of detail helps to develop the skills to remember more as you develop your practice.


7          Is it OK for the parents and the practitioner to join in the child’s play, if the child asks them to?

Yes! Lots of children ask their parents or carers and the practitioner to join in when they play – and this can be enjoyable as well as encouraging for the child.  The challenge can be to follow the child’s lead, rather than taking over and bringing in your own ideas. Practice helps!


8          The parents I am working with are keen to learn strategies to help their child, but they sometimes find it difficult to try something new. How can I help them?

For some parents, knowing about the value of free, exploratory play for child development is reassuring and it will be helpful to share information from child development research about the importance of play for learning and school readiness. For some caregivers, seeing a difference in their child’s play, or in their relationship with their child may be more important. In this situation, sharing your observations of changes and developments, however apparently small, may be more important.

When encouraging caregivers to try something new in their way of interacting with their child during Watch Me Play!, give positive feedback, validate the caregivers’ attention to the child, the toys and materials they provide, the words they use to talk with their child about their play and every effort to allow their child to play freely.

To avoid parents and carers feeling judged or criticized, model the approach and actively join in during play sessions, talking to the child about their play, talking with the parent about their support for the child’s play and their experience of being with their child. Try to find a way of being alongside the parent, sharing impressions and observations, respectful of, interested in and responding to both parent and child.


9          The family I am working with tell me that they watch their children playing all the time. How can I be clear about what’s different about in Watch Me Play! ?

Use the Welcome to Watch Me Play! video, the Short Guide to Watch Me Play! or the Manual for Parents, to explain the approach to parents. Make sure you are clear about what Watch Me Play! involves- following each step makes it more likely that families will enjoy and continue with the approach. Talk through with the parents each step of the approach and explore any questions or doubts they have. Explore their thoughts and questions what is different in this approach.

While you are developing your practice, write detailed notes on each session with a family and look at the notes before each visit, so that you can give clear guidance to parents or carers. For many parents and carers, taking an interest without teaching is different and can be difficult, especially at first. For some families, providing undivided attention, not doing anything else at the same time as watching their child play, is challenging. If the 5 steps in Watch Me Play! aren’t possible, it may be helpful to focus on just one step at a time, starting with creating a quiet, distraction-free space where the baby or child can relax and play freely.

Many parents and carers feel motivated when they start to see changes: a hyperactive child slowing down in their play, a very withdrawn child becoming more lively and alert, a silent child vocalizing more, a child who has been fixated on television and screens becoming absorbed in imaginative play, or the parents or carers themselves feeling more confident about understanding their child, or enjoying time spent with their child more. The practitioner’s role is to help caregivers notice the changes and encourage them to go on being interested in their child’s play.


10        How can Watch Me Play! be introduced with parents or carers who had little experience of play when they were growing up?

Play activities exploring different types of play, in groups or in individual sessions, can be helpful for parents or carers who have had little experience of free play in their own childhood, or who are anxious about what might happen if their child plays freely. Some parents may find role-play helpful: the practitioner can take the role of a parent or carer who takes an interest and lets the child play freely, while the parent is in the role of a child who is playing; then the practitioner can take the role of a parent or carer who interrupts the child’s play, gives directions and takes over. In the context of a good working relationship with parents or carers, discussing the different experiences in each role-play can help to get across the differences between child-led and adult-led play.

For some parents and carers, individual work is more containing and supportive than group work. It may be helpful to focus on just one step in the Watch Me Play! approach at a time, starting with creating a quiet, distraction-free space for play and allowing plenty of time for parents or carers to share their impressions, thoughts and questions.


11        The foster carer I am supporting finds it difficult when the child she is looking after, damages the dolls and other toys she has got for him. The playroom is a complete mess as soon as he starts playing! What advice should I give?

For some children the opportunity for free play provides an outlet for long held-in feelings. During the Watch Me Play! time, carers are encouraged to accept the child’s play, describe what the child does and talk it over with another adult – a family member, another carer, a health visitor or social worker. This can help children, over time, to develop trust in their caregivers. A child who is not alone with difficult or painful feelings may be more able to recover from trauma, respond to new relationships and develop their own interests and capacities.

These feelings can be upsetting or disturbing for adults to be aware of and many caregivers feel they should teach children to behave differently. A supportive relationship with a practitioner who is in regular contact is important, so that the carer has someone to talk with and does not feel alone. Supervision for the practitioner is also important.

Watching the child’s play and talking with the child about their play together with the foster carer may allow the impact of the child’s communications in play to be taken in over time. Something may change in the child’s play. Together you may be able to notice and celebrate  changes in the child’s play and share any worries. Regular meetings with the child’s network including their social worker, contact supervisors, teacher or teaching assistant and the looked after child nurse or paediatrician could provide a helpful forum for monitoring the support needed by the child and for supporting the foster carer. If the child’s play does not change over time, consider seeking advice from an infant or child mental health service, child mental health service, or parent-infant psychotherapist.


12        I am working with a special guardian whose child does not respond or show any interest when she puts toys out for him. How can I help?

Some children may need some time before they are ready to trust that an adult is really interested in their play and will respond sensitively. A child who has the experience that adults can wait and still be friendly and interested may gain in confidence. Encourage the special guardian to think of the Watch Me Play! times as a time to be quietly together without any pressure for anything particular to happen.

The company of a supportive practitioner may be helpful for a caregiver in this situation. Sit on the floor with them, or nearby, so that you can notice any small gestures or glances from the child and think with the carer about how to put them into words. Comment on any small changes that you see and praise the caregiver for going on being available and giving attention to their child.

Toys for younger children can be appealing. Water, sand and playdo allow children to engage in their own way and at their own pace. If the child has a social worker, a health visitor, a nursery worker or another involved professional, think together with them about what the child shows you during these times together and whether further help may be needed. Regular meetings with professionals who know the child could provide a helpful forum for monitoring the support needed by the child and for supporting the special guardian.


13        If a child is unsure how to play, or their play is very repetitive, should the parents  and I give the child ideas and suggestions to help them move on ?

Watch Me Play! is an opportunity for a baby or child, with the support of adult attention and company, to find ways of managing feelings that may make it difficult for them to play, so that over time they gain confidence in exploring and finding their own ideas. When a baby or child finds their own way, sooner or later, this can be an important experience for them and for their parents or carers.

Allowing a baby or child to play freely and to make their own choices in play is challenging for many parents and carers. Some families find the different approach suggested in Watch Me Play! a bit of a surprise, some find it a relief, and some start to see hoped-for changes in behaviour and relationships when they do Watch Me Play! regularly with their baby or child. Parents and carers who find it difficult to let their baby or child play freely may benefit from more frequent Watch Me Play! sessions, sessions with the baby or child alternating with sessions just with the parents or carers, or from a different type of support.

Review the work from time to time to see if each step in the Watch Me Play! approach is in place. Use the checklist for practitioners to check fidelity to the approach. If a child’s play does not change after some weeks of doing Watch Me Play!, it may be helpful to review the support that could be helpful for the family.


14        If it feels awkward to talk with the baby or child about their play, is it just as good to be silent and just watch?

Watching a child and their parent or carer silently could create a tense situation that makes a family feel they are being assessed or judged, so talking with the baby or child about their play is an important part of the approach. Letting the baby or child hear your voice and see how you respond to their play shows that you are friendly and interested. You don’t need to talk non-stop, and you don’t have to search for specially interesting or new things to say – you can just echo what the child says a lot of the time – but it is important to use your voice and your face to show your interest and support for the child’s play.

Every Watch Me Play! practitioner finds their own style and their way of being with a family and their baby or child. The simplest words or sounds are the best for getting to the level of the baby or child: echoing the sounds a baby makes, mirroring a baby’s facial expressions; or putting sounds to an action- “Vroom ! Crash! “. Use simple language to respond to something sudden or unexpected- “Wow!” – or describe what’s happening in the play: “Up! Down!”, ” Here it is! Gone again !” – “The car is going over the bridge, up in the air…”. Saying these simple things, allowing yourself to sound a bit silly, can be encouraging for parents and carers who can see what you are doing is not complicated and yet often has an impact for the baby or child. Asking parents and carers to join in with you, and praising them when they do, giving feedback to parents in the moment, is important too.


15        If it’s difficult to find a time to talk with parents or carers about the child’s play , is it best to just do the play sessions?

Watch Me Play! is the whole experience of watching the child play, talking to the child about their play and talking with parents or carers about the child’s play. This reflection and time to talk helps to create a framework that can be containing and supportive for the child and the family.

You can be flexible and creative about how and when to have this talk. It’s not always practical right after the play session, or there may be things that parents or carers need to talk about that aren’t appropriate in the presence of the child. When possible, it’s helpful to talk for a while with the child present, so that you can convey your interest in and support for the child’s play. But it may also be necessary to plan for a separate time when you can talk for longer with the parents or carers – in another meeting, or a phone call, or online.

There may be so much to talk about that it is difficult to focus on the baby or child’s play. Being open and receptive to parents and carers is part of a respectful attitude to the family and fostering a positive relationship. As well as hearing about current concerns or issues, aim to focus for a period of time on what you and they saw the baby or child do in the session. The questions in the Watch Me Play! diary can be useful prompts for this discussion.

Discussing the child’s play with the parents or carers may prompt more memories for you; there may be things that you remember that the parent or carer has forgotten. So your memories together add up to more.