Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Book Review - PLAY by Dr Amanda Gummer

Play – by Dr Amanda Gummer

ISBN 978-0-091-95514-4

(published May 2015 by Vermilion)

RRP £10.99

Eight chapters – each based on age appropriateness
Final Words
Appendix – including Nursery Rhyme verses


Author and psychologist, Dr Amanda Gummer (the author) goes some way in setting the tone for the rest of the book


This is child health and development handbook for parental referencing, and what it is that makes it so is the content of each chapter being headed and led by the age appropriateness of a child: 0-2 months2-6 months,
 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, 2-3 years, 3-4 years, 4 years and upwards. Information is largely on milestone marking, and recognising the mental, physical, social and emotional needs of the child and interacting with, and being observational of, the stages of their development. Stimulation of the senses with objects, and toys, playing games, is a high feature. There is also some acknowledgement of the parent having to consider their own well being at times when it can be tough going. The kind of familiar, stresses and anxieties (from both sides) which can arise are mentioned, not feeding problems or medical considerations particularly (it is not that kind of health book), but things like sleep deprivation and problems arising from an interrupted routine. Tips given to handle these for the best 


The author is perceptive and knowledgeable as to how play 'comes-into-play', from the very beginnings of a young life through to school starting age. Tablets, online gaming, smart phones, games and hand-held consoles, and TV are really only mentioned under a sub-title called ‘balancing your child’s ‘Play Diet’, and this section is simply about how to limit a child’s technology focused play; rather than examining play when it comes in this form and of how and in which ways it can be facilitated to help a child to reach a greater potential. This is a book which very much takes a traditional look at linking play, adult/child and group interacting, and bonding exercises to aid children in their development. The main content it is not condescending or matter of fact and it is full of the kind of tip giving advice that a parent may well be seeking at any time in the early years of their child’s life


The first chapter is very good as it can answer the nitty gritty kind of trouble shooting questions that a search engine result may not throw up for you. This book does not really bring much to the table for the parent or parental figure who regularly engages in activities with their child in respect of their learning and development, and information is not that in depth on the subject of children requiring more specialist considerations. Yet, for anyone who seeks a little bit of inspiration and thought injection about what to do with their young children at home and when out and about, and who may need help with identifying the reasons behind their child’s moods or behaviour, or help in interpreting their child’s responses sometimes, there is plenty of intuitive comment made in a structured way that you will find helpful

Paperback 154 Pages. Sub-headings fall under the topic of each chapter. Each chapter’s end has a recap in the form of a ‘fun things to do with your child’ list, which, if you’ve read the book, can act as a quick reminder of an activity that had been outlined, this taking away the need to refer to, or locate the information each time, in the body of the text. The book also becomes a diary and there is note paper space, so the book could become a treasured keepsake and a memory evoker in year's to come, not a new idea but rather nice and the book is not too bulky for storing. There is a resource/contact list at the back of the book

Some b/w comic book style illustrations.


The tone is very much the voice of a health expert rather than that of an educational theologian. This is an advice giving class, not a masterclass, as the approach taken is not academic or in any way exploratory. For me, to channel education and development through creativity and play is my passion. Being somewhat conversant with the writings of Friedrich Fröbel and his theory writing centred on the tiny baby and its huge and forever growing capabilities, and the instinctive striving one has to achieve self awareness, and the huge leap of change in the total being which happens when the ability to stand upright is achieved. Of John Holt and his publications including How Children Fail and How Children Learn where he explores autonomous style teachings, and those of Rudolf Steiner where the importance of nature and the arts in child's play and in education, and Maria Montessori, of course, and her techniques and use of natural materials etc in educating children, well, compared to all of that; this book, for me, is not that enlightening. That comment made, I can conclude however, that I firmly believe if I'd had possession of this book when a new mother, back in 1993, being before the internet it has to be said, but before the benefit of my hindsight too, I think this book would have been something I’d refer to often for its advice giving qualities

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