Tug of war, tangling, tickling, leapfrog – rough and tumble play is a normal feature of childhood and part of child development – and yet there are understandable reservations about introducing it as part of Reception provision. Teacher Rachna Joshi and EYFS lead Carla Jones advise

“I love this idea but I’d never be allowed to do this in my setting.”

This has been a common reaction when we have shared our work on rough and tumble play with teachers in other schools. Rough and tumble play is a very normal part of everyday home life, but there is often a perception that it can encourage aggression or violence.

Hughes (2002) defines rough and tumble play as: “Close encounter play which is less to do with fighting and more to do with gauging relative strength.”

A variety of research discusses the difference between aggression and rough and tumble play, maintaining that the intent of the children engaging in this play is crucial.

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