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Watch me play

Watch Me Play!

Watch Me Play! is a simple way for parents and caregivers to support their baby or young child. The approach can be helpful in a range of family contexts.

Child playing with parent

Get the manual

This fantastic free resource will help parents to support their child’s development through play.

Watch Me Play! was developed in First Step as an intervention to promote child-led play, enhance relationships, and create a better understanding of each child’s strengths and needs.

How it works

The Watch Me Play! approach promotes child-led play, individual attention from caregivers, and talking with babies and children about their play. Caregivers are asked to provide age-appropriate toys and their undivided attention in a quiet environment for regular short times two or more times a week. Caregivers are also encouraged to talk with the baby or child about their play, and to reflect with another involved adult or a professional on what they saw and how it felt to be with their baby or child as they played.

Play can help to allow new thoughts and feelings to be expressed. Receiving their caregiver’s undivided attention helps children to focus in their play and communicate. Letting the child take the lead, as long as what they choose to do is safe, allows adults to learn from the child’s play.

How it can be used

A special time to focus on playing and enjoying being together can help parents and caregivers to feel more connected with their baby or child. Many parents and caregivers tell us that they see positive changes in their child’s play skills, speech or relationships after using the Watch Me Play! approach. If there are worries, a period of Watch Me Play! can help to indicate the type of further intervention or assessment that may be helpful.

For vulnerable children or those who are in care, close attention to the child’s play can help to bring together professional networks, informing care planning and further support for the child. Watch Me Play! can be used by parents and by foster carers and can be used in supervised contact to enhance the experiences of parents and children.

The Watch Me Play! approach can also be used to support children in nursery or school.

Take our two day training course

Take part in our two day training course to learn the principles and how to introduce the Watch Me Play! to caregivers and colleagues in your practice.

Watch Me Play!

Our research

Explore the research behind Watch Me Play!

Watch Me Play! in other languages

Norsk (Norwegian)

Română (Romanian)

Русский (Russian)

Yкраїнська (Ukrainian)