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Understanding the Meaningful Occupation of Play in Childhood

Call for Papers

Children process their world and express their views of their world through play. In occupational therapy, play is considered a primary occupation of childhood and essential for a child’s health and well-being. However, there is a disconnection between valuing play as a primary occupation and prioritizing child’s play ability through assessment and intervention in the practice of occupational therapy. In therapy, play is used more as a means to engage children in activities as therapy goals are aimed at increasing children’s function in fine motor and gross motor ability, writing, sensory processing, and visual-perceptual ability. Therapy aimed at understanding and supporting a child’s ability to play, as an ends to therapy, is not as common in practice. This situation is concerning because enriching a child’s ability to play has been shown to increase a child’s participation in daily activities because play ability is associated with language, narrative understanding, social competence, self-regulation, creativity, and problem solving. How a child plays provides therapists with valuable information on how that child is functioning within that child’s cultural, social, and physical environments.

The study of play can be applied to the person and their environment. On the person level, understanding can be applied to the child’s ability to play, regardless of the child’s diagnosis. On the environment level, understanding of play can be applied to the cultural environment, social environment, and physical environment of the child, which includes access to spaces to play and access to play materials. The United Nations Rights of the Child includes the child’s right to play, and occupational therapists are well placed to facilitate a child’s right to play.

We invite contributions to original research articles as well as review articles that will extend and stimulate knowledge and debate on the meaningful occupation of play in childhood. We especially welcome articles on a child’s play as an ends in therapy.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Play assessment
  • Therapeutic approaches where play ability is the goal of therapy
  • Enabling play through changing a child’s environment
  • Enhancing play ability in specific populations of children (clinical or nonclinical)
  • Outcomes of increasing the child’s ability to play

Authors can submit their manuscripts through the Manuscript Tracking System at

Submission DeadlineFriday, 13 April 2018
Publication DateAugust 2018

Papers are published upon acceptance, regardless of the Special Issue publication date.

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