Parenting is hard work. If you’ve got children yourself, I’m sure you’ll be nodding in agreement right now!

That’s why I started a collaboration project with local businesses in Sussex that specialise in all things parenting, child care, parent support and raising wonderful little humans – to give you access to people who can help you when needed and to support your own parenting experience.

Today I’d like to introduce you to the second person and business that is part of my project. We’re looking at the benefits of role play and the effects of playtime on children.

If you’ve missed the first part of the series, you can read about Jenni and her approach to gentle parenting here.

The Benefits of Role Play

An interview with the founder of The Little Play Village

I stumbled over Laura earlier this year when I tried to find parenting professionals and businesses that offer unique services to parents.

Laura, a mum of 2 herself, founded The Little Play Village in 2020, as a means to create a better work-life balance while offering a service she was missing herself. Almost 2 years later and her play sessions are in high demand as well as being adapted by others in and around Worthing.

Let’s hear what she’s got to say about the benefits of her work for children…

00_Laura-litttleplayvillage founder

For those who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself and your business, please? 

I’m Laura, an experienced primary teacher and mum of 2 young children. I’m also the Founder and Creator of The Little Play Village – Worthing and Littlehampton’s first-ever independent role play business for children and families.

My aim is to create role play experiences that inspire imagination and immerse children and their adults in play. Through this play, children can learn and develop a huge variety of skills, including confidence in communicating their ideas with others, gaining opportunities to practice turn-taking, and increasing their hand-eye coordination and dexterity. The list could go on – I really love talking about the many benefits of role play!

While we are mainly based in Goring, The Little Play Village is mobile, which means I can take the toy sets to a variety of locations. Families and childminders can also borrow many of our toy sets for 3 or 4 days in their own homes.

Who do you help or work with?

The Little Play Village offers local families and childminders a secure space in which they can relax and play together, meet with friends and feel confident that their child will be fully engaged for the entire time they are with us – ideal for families hoping their child will have a long nap after their visit!

Based on my own experience as a mum of 2 children with a 2.5 year age gap, I knew the space and experiences I create needed to be relaxed, suitable for families with multiple children and most of all, safe. One of the ways I do this is to ensure the play areas are visible from anywhere in the room: if you have 2 or more children playing in different areas, you can always see where they are and what they are doing from where you are. I also ensure there are a range of toys suitable for our youngest visitors – this keeps them safe and stimulated, as well as busy for a few moments while parents take a moment or two to play with their older child.

We also offer support to families of children with certain anxieties: a visit to the dentist, doctor or hairdresser can be a stressful idea for many children. By borrowing the relevant toy set for 3 or 4 days at a time, families can work together to role play the scenarios and provide the child with information and opportunities to express their concerns, in turn preparing them for the experience and reducing their worries.

For some time now, I have been working closely with specialist organisations to set up and run play sessions designed for children with additional needs and families who feel their child would prefer an adapted play session. I hope that families will be able to meet others with shared experiences and help them develop a strong support network, with visiting professionals available to offer support and guidance if it is wanted.

What’s the best thing about your job?

There are so many great things about my job, so choosing just one thing is really tough!  I love being able to provide a safe and relaxed space for children and families, which is exciting and engaging at the same time.  It is also wonderful to see the excitement and determination in the childrens (and adults!) faces while they are with us. To be a part of it is such an honour!

Why do parents and children need your service?

The Little Play Village provides children and families with an exciting space where they can connect, play and learn together.

Our sessions are known for being relaxed, calm and enjoyable – even by some of our super energetic visitors! The free-flow nature of each session means that families can play at their own pace, in an environment that is warm and welcoming. As a Mum of 2 young children myself, I recognise how frantic and stressful some toddler groups can be – that isn’t the experience I want for our visitors to The Little Play Village!

As well as being really fun and engaging, role play has a huge number of benefits for children, even from a very young age. For example, visits to The Little Play Village can create opportunities for children to build on their speech and language skills: children can try out new vocabulary while acting as a character. This often makes it feel safer for children to ‘have a go’, hear adults or other children model language to them, and for our children to safely make mistakes and try again.

How does a session with you work?

Parents and carers book into one of our many play sessions online, via our booking page (accessible via our website).
On the day, they turn up, let me know who they are & enjoy an hour of exciting role play with their child(ren).

Parents or carers usually play with their child(ren), but often find that they become so engrossed in play that they can step back and just observe for a while. This is great for the child as well as the parent/carer!
During each session, my role is to thoroughly clean mouthed toys and reset each area so it is fresh and inviting for children to discover.

Ten minutes before the end, I give a time warning: this helps ease the tricky transition from full immersion in play, to leaving the venue.

Where are your play sessions held and how big are the groups?

At the moment, I am mostly running sessions in Goring, using the community space at the back of St. Richards Church, Maybridge. During December, I took The Village to two other venues – I’m looking to expand on this in the new year.

To maintain the relaxed, Covid-safe play space The Little Play Village is known for, I keep numbers limited to 36. Within this, there will only ever be a maximum of 16 family groups. This ensures everyone has space to move easily and access toy sets without danger of overcrowding.

How did you come up with your idea of The Little Play Village?

In January 2020, when my daughter was a month old, I realised I couldn’t sustain any form of home-work balance with 2 young children, a husband with a varying shift pattern, a dog and a teaching job which demands so much time and emotional energy. Doing a half-decent job at any of those things wasn’t going to be OK, so something would need to change.

I made lists of my strengths and interests, which included my passion for creating invitations to play for my son, then aged 2 and a half.

With the support of my family and friends, I decided to build a role play business in Worthing – nothing existed in the area or nearby, and I knew it would be a hit with other families of young children.  I navigated the business through the Covid restrictions and eventually set up groups. In July 2021, I left teaching to focus fully on The Little Play Village and I’m absolutely loving it!

How can people work with you?

At the moment, it’s just me running the business with the constant support and help from my mum, who gives up so much of her time to help me each week. I hope that in the (not too distant) future, there will be opportunities for others to join the team as I expand The Little Play Village.

Having been to one of these play sessions myself, I can vouch for how much of a hit Laura’s Play Village is with kids as well as their parents. If I had a place like this as a child, I would never have wanted to leave!

If you want to learn more about the role plays that are on offer, how to book a session or talk to Laura about anything regarding The Little Play Village, visit her online on her website or Social Media channels. That’s also where you’ll find out about the venues as well as dates and times for scheduled sessions.

The Little Play Village website
The Little Play Village Facebook Page
The Little Play Village on Instagram


And if you happen to know someone who might be interested in being part of this Small Business collaboration project or someone you would like to hear from on my blog, feel free to let me know or send them to the collaboration page I created for that purpose.

For any other ideas, requests or information, my email inbox is always open for you. Just drop me a message…

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