Childhood Wellbeing: Play, Socialisation and Resilience

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
05 July 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L520 Childhood Studies,
BA L521 Childhood Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA L522 Childhood Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L523 Childhood Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

Childhood wellbeing has become one of the most important issues facing society in recent years. It is important for children because, in large part, it determines the quality of their childhood and their growth toward adulthood and agency. But it also says a good deal about adulthood. Arguably, the world we make for children represents the way adults understand, feel about and respond to children.

In this module, with a central focus on wellbeing and the domains of wellbeing, we will address three key related topics: play, socialisation and resilience. We will begin by exploring the concept of wellbeing across cultures, within National and International contexts. Then we will examine the idea of 'toxic childhood' which suggests childhood in the modern, technological, visual and internet-focused era has itself become a danger. At the same time, we appear to live in a highly risk-averse society where children are protected from independent engagement with elements of the 'outside' world. What impact can this double-bind have upon children and are they really safer and better protected than the child of the past?

We will also ask what role play has in regard to wellbeing? What is play, how do children utilise play and what does this mean for mental and physical health? Play appears to be something that takes place in the external world of activities and games, but play can also influence the inner world and the resources we need to draw upon in later life. Is there a relationship between play and socialisation, our capacity to be sensitively and co-operatively related to others? Finally, what is meant by 'resilience'? Over the last 10 years resilience theory and research has developed considerably but what are the implication of this and what can be done to promote resilience in children.

In studying these topics students will draw not only upon the literature, research and their experiences in
placement, but they will also have the opportunity to draw reflectively upon their own childhoods. What were the forces, familial, social and political, which influenced the childhoods which have, finally, led to very study of this topic? Such an understanding on oneself and one's career motivation is a cornerstone of reflective practice.

Module aims


* To understand the meaning and importance of wellbeing as a focus for improving children's experiences
* To utilise wellbeing as a way to assess, plan for and support children's physical, social, emotional and mental health
* To learn about the relationship between play and socialisation
* To recognise that children possess considerable strengths and capacities and are active agents in their own lives and development
* To consider and utilise the research on risk and resilience when planning for children
* To reflective upon one's own childhood experiences

Module learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes

* Students will have gained an understanding of children's wellbeing across cultures
* Students will recognise the interrelationship between political, economic, cultural and ideological context for wellbeing
* Students will be able to describe and evaluate the impact on children of modern technology, particularly that of screen and internet
* Students will recognise the importance of play in the development of the inner world
* Students will understand how the absence of appropriate play leads to restricted social and emotional development
* Students will have experience of a foster school where risk is celebrated, accepted and learned from
* Students will be reflective about their own early experiences and how these relate to professional life working with children

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

• Seminar one is a lecture • Seminar two is a discussion seminar • Two reflective groups to link personal narratives to the theory • There is also a field trip to a Forest school


  • VYGOTSKY, LEV SEMENOVICH. (2004-01) 'Imagination and Creativity in Childhood', in Journal of Russian & East European Psychology. vol. 42 (1) , pp.7-97
  • Gabriel, Norman. (2017) The sociology of early childhood: critical perspectives, London: Sage.
  • Music, Graham. (2011) Nurturing natures: attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural, and brain development, Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Somerville, Matthew P.; Whitebread, David. (2019-12) 'Emotion regulation and well-being in primary classrooms situated in low-socioeconomic communities', in British Journal of Educational Psychology. vol. 89 (4) , pp.565-584
  • Veiga, Cynthia. (2018-03-04) 'The body's civilisation/decivilisation: emotional, social, and historical tensions', in Paedagogica Historica. vol. 54 (1-2) , pp.20-31
  • Priest, Naomi; Mackean, Tamara; Davis, Elise; Briggs, Lyn; Waters, Elizabeth. (2012) 'Aboriginal perspectives of child health and wellbeing in an urban setting: Developing a conceptual framework', in Health Sociology Review. vol. 21 (2) , pp.180-195
  • Powers, Michael. (2018) 'The Smallest Remainder: Benjamin and Freud on Play', in MLN. vol. 133 (3) , pp.720-742
  • Buckingham, David; Strandgaard Jensen, Helle. (2012-11) 'Beyond “Media Panics”:', in Journal of Children and Media. vol. 6 (4) , pp.413-429

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   3500 word essay     

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Norman Gabriel, email:
from Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator Room 5A.202 telephone 01206 874969 email



External examiner

Prof Heather Montgomery
The Open University
Professor of Anthropology and Childhood
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.