Play, creativity and the arts

The Thrive Approach incorporates play, creativity and the arts to build healthy, safe and supportive relationships between adults and the children and young people they are working alongside.

Learn more below.



How does it work?

The Thrive Approach uses interactive play and creative activities to help expand how children and young people express themselves.

Why is it important?

Play is important for healthy brain development, promoting a positive sense of self and building optimal learning capacity. It is also an ideal way of helping adults to build safe and supportive relationships with children and young people, enabling them to thrive.



Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (1989) as a right for every child.

Through play, children and young people develop their creativity, imagination and cognitive, emotional and physical strength.

Initially, children and young people use play to interact with the world around them: it is how they learn, and how they relate. By listening, paying attention, sharing and taking turns, a child/young person learns how to explore their own feelings, develop self-discipline, express themselves and understand the impact that they have on their peers and friends. Play also helps children and young people to develop confidence in who they are by enabling them to build the social skills needed to interact with others and form relationships.

Thrive incorporates play-based activities to optimise the wellbeing of all children and young people. The activities help children and young people to share thoughts, feelings and ideas, supporting social and emotional literacy.

In some cases, children and young people may find it difficult to play or not want to play because of their earlier experiences. This lack of playing can lead to various cognitive, social, emotional and psychological issues later in the child or young person’s life. The Thrive Approach uses creative activities to gently and sensitively invite these children and young people to play. Over time, the children and young people learn to feel safe in expressing their feelings. They then feel more able to integrate in social settings and can regulate their behaviour more appropriately.

Our web-based profiling and action-planning tool, Thrive-Online, will suggest targeted strategies and activities – including play and the arts – for use with whole classes, small groups or individuals, based on the needs identified through profiling.

Reference: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989. Geneva: United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Available at: (accessed on 18 March 2020)

Key information
  • Play is essential for healthy brain development. It improves the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.
  • Creative play promotes social and emotional development by integrating feelings with activities and relationships.
  • For good mental and physical health and to learn life skills, children and young people need a variety of unstructured play opportunities from birth through to adolescence.
  • Thrive uses the creative arts and play to help children and young people explore their emotions without the need to use words.
  • The Thrive Approach incorporates arts and play-based activities as a way of building the supportive relationship a child or young person needs to become more open to learning.



Case studies

While it is important to understand the model behind The Thrive Approach, what really matters is the impact that it can have in practice for the development of an individual child or young person.

View case studies

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If you would like to discuss more about Thrive and what opportunities are currently available in your area, please click the link below or call the Thrive team direct on 01392 797555.

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