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The Childhood, Law & Policy Network (CLPN)

Dr Natalie Canning


Co Director Children's Research Centre, The Open University, United Kingdom



Dr Natalie Canning is co-director of the Children’s Research Centre, Area Lead for Childhood and Youth on the professional doctorate programme and Senior Lecturer in Education - Early Childhood all at The Open University. She has a background in social work using playwork philosophies and practice to support young children experiencing emotional and socio-economic challenges. This influences her approach to teaching and research which include professional development of Early Childhood professionals in relation to quality practice; self-motivated learning and children’s play, curiosity and creativity.



Canning, N (2022) ‘Play, Learning and Development’ in Waters-Davies, J. (Ed.) Introduction to Play. London: SAGE, p55-67

Canning, N and Robinson, B (2021) ‘Blurring boundaries: the invasion of home as a safe space for families and children with SEND during COVID-19 lockdown in England’ European Journal of Special Needs Education 36(1): 65-79

Canning, N (2020) "The significance of children’s play and empowerment: An observational tool" TACTYC Occasional Paper 14, Online:

Canning, N (2020) Children’s empowerment in play Oxon: Routledge Canning, N (2019) “Just 5 more minutes!’ Power dynamics in outdoor play” International Journal of Play 8 (1), p11-24


Natalie's publications on children’s empowerment are significant in recognising how children are empowered through child-initiated, social play and the implications of empowerment for future learning and development.
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